Tie a Yellow Ribbon Round the Old Oak Tree

Here it is, Wednesday already, and what have I got to show for the week thus far?

Very little, if I am going to be brutally honest. Other than losing my house keys at some point yesterday, which is incredibly annoying–particularly since we can’t seem to find the spare set of keys. Heavy sigh.

I used to misplace my keys and my wallet all the time; I can’t even begin to fathom how much time and energy in my life has been wasted looking for my keys and my wallet. When Paul and I first began living together a million years ago, he had a simple solution for the problem: simply put my keys and my wallet in a designated place every time I came home. A few years later I added a belt clip to my key ring, so I would always know where my keys were when I wasn’t home; they were clipped to a belt loop and therefore I always knew where they were. Yesterday, for some reason, at the office when I got in yesterday I tossed my key ring onto my desk, where they stayed for most of the day…and then when I got home last night, the house keys weren’t on my key ring. Which means, quite simply, at some point when I was clipping or unclipping my keys from my belt loop, the ring with the house keys must have come off. Yesterday I picked up a prescription and went out for lunch–so the keys could have come off at the pharmacy, the place I had lunch, either parking lot, or the parking lot at the office–or they could have come off on my desk when I was removing the key to my desk or the jump drive off the clip. I am hopeful they are either on or around my desk somewhere. Paul is going to have more keys made from his today regardless; but it’s still pretty fucking irritating.

But the good news, I guess, is I’ve only lost my keys twice in the last twenty-odd years. Granted, both times have been within the last three years, but it’s still a vast improvement over me spending hours per week trying to remember where I last put them.

This week I’ve been sleeping pretty well; this morning I stayed in bed longer than was completely necessary, and now I am a bit behind this morning, but that’s also fine. I tried not to let the missing keys bother me too much last night–it did annoy me, subconsciously, for most of the night, to be honest–but I just watched the snoozefest that the Real Housewives of Beverly Hills has turned into–and seriously, it’s so boring and dull and stupid these days that I am tempted to stop watching entirely because I don’t really care anymore–as I’ve said before, New York remains the gold standard for these shows. I’m very close to bailing on Beverly Hills, frankly; it’s not particularly interesting any more, plus the women on this show clearly have issues having the dirt of their private lives aired on television–as opposed to, say, New York and Atlanta, whose cast members clearly LIVE for living in front of the camera.

And yes, I probably spend far too much time with reality television.

And now back to the spice mines.

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Money Honey

Ah, the weekend is over and it’s Monday again.

But I went to bed early last night and woke up promptly when my alarm went off, and I feel neither sleepy nor lethargic nor tired today, so that’s a win in my book. It was a pretty good weekend, all things considered; Saturday I was tired all day, but yesterday was a good day and I managed to get a lot of needed cleaning on the house done. I also read the final draft of a manuscript I’m editing, and made some notes on that. I did some more thinking, and I also went through computer files and found all the novel manuscripts that are in some form of completion; the goal is to spend the next two years finishing those manuscripts, and/or developing the better ideas into finished manuscripts ready to be sent out. I also did some thinking about some anthologies I’d like to write something for; as usual, I think of the three I am interested in I only have one thing on hand that might actually fit as needed; and I printed out three short stories for another round of edits.

Plus, I did make a red velvet cheesecake for a co-worker’s birthday.

So, over all the weekend wasn’t a total bust; I feel rested today and like I can face the rest of the week, as opposed to my usual wondering how I am going to make it to Friday feeling that I usually am experiencing on Mondays. So that’s a good thing.

We continue to watch Fleabag and enjoy it; we’ll undoubtedly finish the second season either tonight or tomorrow. I’m sorry there are only two season; I think I saw somewhere there won’t be another, which is disappointing. It isn’t easy to pull off the “breaking the fourth wall” thing Fleabag does–usually, it makes me stop watching–but it’s done very artfully and never for too long; and the way Phoebe Waller-Bridge can switch from the scene in which she is participating in, break to make an aside to the camera, and then immediately return to exactly where she was at in the scene is astonishing.

Maybe it’s easy and it’s something every actor can do, but it seems fresh and new and interesting to me on the show.

I’m also still thinking about the WIP. I’ve decided to work on revising these short stories while I let my brain continue sorting out whatever it is that needs to be sorted with this plot and story. I think I know where the story needs to go next, but am not completely sure, and I don’t want to write something until I’m certain–although what I usually do is just barrel ahead and hope things shake out the way they are supposed to….sigh.

This is why writers drink.

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Give Up the Funk (Tear The Roof Off That Sucker)

I started watching Doom Patrol on DC Universe the other night, and I have to confess I was a bit intrigued–much more so than I was when Titans did their crossover and wound up at the Doom Patrol house for one episode. That episode didn’t encourage me to tune in when Doom Patrol got its own series, but I’m glad I did tune in. I love that Brendan Frasier and Matt Bomer are basically doing voice-over work, as their characters are robots and completely bandaged from head to toe; but there was also a wonderful sequence where we learn that before the accident that left him burned beyond recognition over all of his body, Matt Bomer’s character was a deeply closeted gay Air Force pilot in the 1960’s, with a wife and child. It was a lovely, sad, and poignant touch, and one that we, in our modern times, don’t think about much: what it was like to be queer between World War II and Stonewall. I am finding myself drawn more and more to historical queer life, to be honest; it’s fascinating finding the clues and small, almost completely eradicated traces of queers in history. Maybe one of these days I’ll write a book set in the past…I have an idea for one or two, the problem being I don’t have a whole lot of time for research–I don’t have a lot of time for anything these days, it seems.

We also started watching Fleabag last night, and it’s quite interesting. Very different from most other shows, really; I can’t think of anything it’s even remotely like. Phoebe Waller-Bridge is fantastic in the lead, and she also created the show and writes it.

Yesterday I worked on a manuscript I’m editing; I intend to do some more work on that today as well. There are a million other things I need to do as well today; I started making a red velvet cheesecake for a co-worker’s birthday yesterday–I made the cheesecake part, today I have to do the red velvet cake, layer them together, and make the frosting–and I also need to do some cleaning. I’d like to get some writing or editing of my own stuff done today, too–but who knows how much time I will have to get around to doing any of it? It’s so easy for me to get off-track, and I am very easily distracted, as we all know. It’s really all a matter of juggling and staying motivated. The last two nights I slept deeply until around three-thirty in the morning; after that my sleep was spotty–more awake just lying in bed or half-awake until I finally got up both mornings. Yesterday I wound up being very tired in the afternoon and wound up taking a nap; having Scooter get into my lap and fall asleep never helps; Paul and I think he drains our energy like some kind of cat-vampire; he always cuddles up to one of us and falls asleep….and before too long, whichever one of us he is lying on is asleep as well.

Naturally, he doesn’t cuddle up to me at night when I’d like to use his sleep-inducement powers.

Anyway, I feel rested this morning and I’m awake early, which means I can get a lot done if I close my browsers and ignore the rest of the world. The house is a mess, as always, and I’ve been letting things slide (I’ve not done the living room floor in quite some time and it’s very apparent), and perhaps today I can make the time to get some of it under control.

I have a short work week this week; National HIV Testing Day is a week from this Thursday, which means I have to work eight hours instead of the usual four; since our pay week runs from Friday to Thursday, that means I get to take this coming Friday off for a lovely three day weekend. Needless to say, the month is completely winding down and I still haven’t gotten the first draft of the WIP done, but I think it’s slowly starting to come together for me–what I need to get the rest of it done. I think it’s going to be pretty good once it’s finished but who the hell knows? I’m really not sure of anything anymore, to be perfectly honest, particularly when it comes to writing. One would think it would get easier the more you do it, you know? But it never gets easier…if anything, it seems like it’s getting harder the older I get.

And on that note, I’d best get going on everything.

Have a lovely Sunday, everyone.

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Junk Food Junkie

Well, Constant Reader, we made it through another week successfully, and the weekend is nigh. I slept pretty well again last night, which was lovely. It’s my half-day today at the office (the second of two in a row) and after I get off work I have to travel out to Metairie to pick up my new glasses, and then its back home to clean and organize and maybe–just maybe–do some writing today. I’ve not written a thing all week, which is pretty shameful. I was tired most of the week from not sleeping deeply, and then yesterday–the first day where I’d slept well–I was busy trying to get caught up on the things I was too tired to do on the long work days when I was feeling tired. I have to make a birthday cake for a co-worker this weekend (red velvet cheesecake, thank you very much) and so while I am at Target today I’m going to buy one of those cake carrier things. I will have to make a grocery run tomorrow as well, but other than that I am going to mostly hang around the house this weekend and get writing/editing done. The editing is the most important thing; that manuscript is coming up due soon, so I really need to get it finished.

Heavy heaving sigh.

But next weekend i have a three day weekend. I have Friday off because the following Thursday (our pay weeks, oddly enough, run from Friday thru Thursday) I am working an eight hour day on National HIV Testing Day in the Carevan at the Walgreens in my neighborhood. So I can literally roll out of bed, shower and get dressed and walk over two blocks to work, and walk two blocks back home when the day is done. I love me some three day weekends, Constant Reader, as you are undoubtedly already aware, and then two weeks later I am taking a mini-vacation around the 4th of July. (I will most likely take another one around my birthday in August as well; then there’s Labor Day, and the end of October is Bouchercon.)

The Lost Apartment isn’t nearly the mess it was before I got home from work yesterday. I did some laundry and a load of dishes–there’s another load that needs to be done as well, and then of course the bed linens, which I do every Friday–and I really need to do the floors as well. I’m not certain about what to do about dinner this evening–well, I suppose nothing, as i just remembered Paul won’t be home this evening as he has made plans with some friends–so I’ll be home pretty much alone most of the day once I get home from Metairie.

Sigh, Metairie. I think I’ll stop at Atomic Burger on my way home. I love their food. I don’t eat fast food that much anymore–living in New Orleans definitely broke both Paul and I of the bad fast food habits we have before we lived here. I think from my graduation from high school through going on my get-healthy kick in 1995 I probably ate most, if not all, meals at fast food places. Which explains the ballooning weight during those eighteen years, and my general not-good health during that period. Now, I so rarely eat fast food that it generally doesn’t agree with my system and it reminds me why I don’t eat it anymore–but there are some exceptions. Five Guys, Sonic and Whataburger remain favorites, but I don’t eat at any of them very often–and they also don’t make me feel sick in the aftermath, either. I do like Atomic Burger in Metairie, though–I’ve only eaten there twice over the last two years or so–but it might make a nice treat for me today to reward myself for the trip to Metairie. But it should be at a time going and coming back that shouldn’t be too terrible, traffic-wise.

I hope, anyway. Even the day I had my eye appointment and had to come back into the city during rush hour wasn’t that terrible, really.

Fingers crossed, at any rate.

And on that note, it’s back to the spice mines.

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Take the Money and Run

Ah, being a writer.

The first month Paul and I lived in New Orleans, we went to a fundraiser for the LGBT Center–I don’t remember how or why we found out about it, or were invited, I don’t know. It was at the Country Club–back when the Country Club was a seedy, queer-only, clothing optional place–and the only thing I truly remember about that evening was they had a tarot card reader, and as someone who’s always been fascinated by the occult and the tarot in particular, I let her give me a reading. We went through the whole thing of me cutting and shuffling the deck, then holding them in my hands and concentrating on my question before handing the deck back to her.

She dealt the cards and smiled. “The answer to your question is yes–but it won’t be anything like you think or hope or expect it to be.”

The question, of course, was will I ever be a published author?

And of course, her response was incredibly vague, could apply to any number of questions, and so on and so forth…but here I am, twenty three years later, a published author and you know what else?

It’s nothing like I thought it would be like, or expected, or hoped.

And to be honest, it’s so much lovelier than I ever thought it would be. Sure, it’s not my sole source of income, like I’d hoped it would be, nor do I get glamorous book tours where I fly around the country to appear and sign books for crowds of adoring, worshipping fans, or have to watch Hollywood studios conduct a bidding war for the rights to turn my books into films or television shows…but it is lovely in so many other unexpected ways: the readers I’ve met, the other writers I’ve befriended and gotten to know, the conventions like Bouchercon…I never thought about those sort of things.

And I do love writing–although I groan about it all the time–even though it never seems to get easier. I’ve not written a single word on anything this week–not a fucking word–and I really need to make up for that this weekend else this manuscript is never going to be finished…and I really need for it to be finished so I can finish the other one. I hate the thought of just putting this one aside for now…but on the other hand, maybe coming back to it at a future date after letting it sit for a while might just be the trick? It’s hard to say–that’s certainly worked in other instances. And maybe working on something else over the course of this weekend might kick the WIP back into shape. At any rate, I have to do something because I can’t just keep letting time go by while not getting anything done.

And the house is a mess. My kitchen is a disgrace–the sink is full of dirty dishes, the counters covered with debris and garbage and things that need to be put away–and I haven’t even done anything to the living room in well over a month. Today is one of my half-days; I am going to stop at Rouse’s on the way home to pick up some things, and then I am going to get the kitchen cleaned and the laundry done and do some work on the living room before sitting down to write some things. I want to get some short stories submitted–I think “The Carriage House” and “This Thing of Darkness” are pretty much ready to go (but I do want to reread them and possibly tweak them at least one more time before hitting the submit button), and I do want to think about some of the other some more as well…and there’s also that goddamned proposal to work on.

No rest for the eternally wicked, is there?

And on that note, the spice mines are calling my name. Have a great Thursday, Constant Reader!

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Tryin’ To Get The Feeling Again

It isn’t very often that I look back at the past. While memories and nostalgia can be quite lovely, they can also be a trap; it is far too easy to start second-guessing your life and thinking things like oh if only I’d done this or maybe if this hadn’t happened and so forth. Many years ago, shortly after I moved to Minneapolis to live with Paul, I gave up on looking back. The truth was, no matter how many bad decisions or wrong turns I’d made in my life, no matter how many shitty things I endured, no matter how many times a friend betrayed me or whatever…the truth was everything in my past was part and parcel of who I am today and my life would be different now if any of those things had changed; so having regrets about the past and playing the if only game indicated that I was, in fact, not happy with my life at the present time because why else would I want to change something in my past if not to change the present?

And I’m pretty fucking happy with my life and my career(s). I do love my day job, where I get to  help people every day, and I love my writing career. I marvel from time to time that I have one at all; it’s been my dream for as long as I can remember–I remember being a little boy and getting my weekly Scholastic book club books, sitting on the back porch of our little apartment in Chicago and reading them, and thinking that what I wanted to do when I grew up was write books for people to read and enjoy, the way I read and enjoyed books. Are there times when I wish I was more successful? Of course there are; I wouldn’t be human if I didn’t have some ambition. And really, while some of that ambition is about making more money, it’s mostly about writing more complex stories and exploring complicated themes and characters.

Right now I have three unpublished manuscripts here in the Lost Apartment; one has been languishing in a drawer after two drafts for nearly seven years, another has gone through five drafts and needs one more to correct everything then another to polish; and the partial I am currently working on (which is like pulling teeth for me, for some reason. I don’t understand why it’s so hard to write this book…). I want to spend probably the rest of this year getting those manuscripts ready for publication before I start writing yet another; I am also working on a proposal for a potential new series, and I have another idea for a stand alone thriller….there’s also an amorphous Scotty book swirling around in the mists in the creative part of my brain. I also would like to do another short story collection, but I need to get those stories written and sent out. I also want to do an essay collection.

Yesterday was a lost day for me, because I was tired all day. I didn’t sleep particularly well either night of the weekend; I was asleep and resting, but not a deep sleep that rests up everything; more of a I’m sort of asleep and wake up every few hours. This made my twelve hour shift yesterday more of a survival thing rather than a participatory day–I was present, and I gave my clients excellent service yesterday (I am, he typed modestly, extremely good at my day job), but I was too tired to really function mentally and creatively. When I got home last night, I was too tired to do much of anything other than stream the first two episodes of the new season of Archer, which I love–even though it’s not quite as good as the earlier seasons were. I’m also considering buying the first season of The Other Two, which isn’t available to stream for free anywhere, I’ve heard good things, and it’s only ten bucks…I hate paying for anything television, but since getting rid of the cable service and using Hulu’s streaming service, even with subscriptions to certain services (HBO, Showtime, ESPN) I still am paying less than I  used when I had cable, so paying to watch a TV show isn’t that bad of a thing. Animal Kingdom has also returned, and we’re watching it as well–and in just over two months college football and the Saints will be back, taking over my weekends. I’m taking a long weekend around the 4th of July–five days; it falls on a Thursday so I am taking Wednesday and Friday to go with it.

Anyway, to bring this back around to the first paragraph, as I said yesterday being interviewed for the Writer Types podcast put me into a reflective mood, looking back at my past–and part of that is also the current WIP, which requires me to probe memories of my childhood summers in Alabama to make the book come to life–and that, in turn, brings back other memories and reflections. At first, I resisted the rabbit holes of memories that were flooding through my brain, determined to never look back–but I also think part of that was not wanting to remember mistakes made and revisiting bad decisions. But embracing the memories hasn’t made them rosier and glossier; but I am able now, with the proper time and distance, to examine them dispassionately and deconstruct how and why, and the lessons learned from them.

And that isn’t a bad thing, really.

I was talking to my co-workers last night about how much change I’ve seen throughout my life–not just for the queer community, but for women and people of color–and even though none of us in those groupings have achieved true equality yet, we’re closer than ever and getting closer every day.

It’s also amazing how patchy my memory is–as I told Eric and Steve during the podcast, the years from 2005-2009 are mostly blanks, which I have learned is a result of the PTSD created by everything from Paul’s gaybashing through the Christian attacks to Katrina and it’s aftermath; it’s not unusual for people to have memory gaps after that kind of emotional trauma.

And now, back to the spice mines.

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Slow Ride

Well, I finally finished that fucking Chapter Fourteen, and yes, it’s rough, but it’s not nearly as bad as I feared it would turn out, nor as it was heading last week when I tried to work on it. Today I figured out a way to plough through it, and now I have to figure out how the fuck I am going to get another eleven chapters out of this story–but truth be told, the elements of the plot are pretty much all in place now and now it’s a matter of playing them out. I also recognized that there’s not an emotional stability at the core of the story–there is, I just haven’t been putting it in, so that’s the next thing I need to do in the next draft, or as this one progresses along I can start putting it in.

I keep saying to myself that someday this will get easier, but thirty-odd books later and here I still am, plodding through a manuscript and ready to throw in the goddamned towel.

Sunday morning and I’m on my second cup of coffee. My kitchen is a mess, and I have to figure out how to use a new app on my computer because I’m being interviewed by Eric Beetner and S. W. Lauden for their Writer Types podcast, which is very cool. I was briefly on it when they were interviewing people in the bar at St. Petersburg Bouchercon, but that was also the now notorious Low ‘n’ Slow afternoon, so I only vaguely remember it and still to this day have no idea what I actually said to them. Not good, really, when it’s going to be broadcast. I think I listened to it, and I didn’t embarrass myself too badly; but I’ve been told any number of times that people can’t tell when I’m wasted.

I’ve always thought they were being kind to lessen my own embarrassment. Maybe they were, who knows?

My relationship with alcohol has always been a tricky one. I only had liquor once before I graduated from high school and I got very drunk at a friend’s birthday party my junior year. I didn’t drink again until the night I graduated, and after I recovered from that horrible hangover I pretty much was drunk every night until we moved to California, where the drinking age was 21 and I was still only nineteen. California was also a lot stricter about checking ID’s than Kansas had ever been, so I was totally sober for two years before I came of legal age to drink again….and then was drunk every night for the next six or seven years again, followed by another few years of utter sobriety, and then when I started going out to gay bars, I still remained sober most of the time, drinking only water and finally, gradually, progressing back to beer again. I don’t drink much anymore–there were many years of New Orleans life where Paul and I went out every weekend night, including Sunday Tea Dance–but since I hung up my dancing shoes, I don’t really drink hardly at all anymore. I’ll have a drink or two when I’m out for dinner, or at a party, or during a conference–I am usually wasted every night at Bouchercon–but once the conference is over, I come back home to sobriety. We generally don’t drink at home–I still have a bottle of wine I bought on the notorious Target expedition with Wendy Corsi Staub in St. Petersburg–and we still have bottles of vodka and gin and tequila left over from the Iris parties of old; and we haven’t had an Iris party in about five years or so.

Although I am sure this October in Dallas there will be drunken, sloppy tales of Gregalicious to tell.

I’m probably going to try to get some writing done after the interview, and some cleaning, and I’d like to read more of Black Diamond Fall. I’m not reading as quickly as I used to, and I am sure it has something to do with social media and they need to constantly be checking it–which is a need that absolutely positively has to be reined in because it’s such a waste of time.

And that sounds like the perfect segue back into the spice mines this morning. Have a lovely Sunday, Constant Reader.

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