Somebody Stand By Me

Saturday morning in the Lost Apartment and all seems to be well so far–yet it is still early, nevertheless. Yesterday was an interesting day. I had to go to a training, if you will recall, in the morning–it was okay, as far as trainings go–and then of course I had a shortened day in the office afterwards (I can only do six hours on Fridays because I work extra long on clinic days), after which I headed home for the Lost Apartment. I almost have the Bouchercon anthology completed; and now I have my page proofing for Streetcar to get through this weekend. I also have a short story deadline tomorrow; but I am not really sure if I am going to bother submitting this story to it. I’m not entirely comfortable with it and what it’s about; it may be in questionable taste, and that of course concerns me deeply. If the story is problematic I don’t even want the editors to read it, you know? And I have this feeling–that nagging voice, which is so quick to point out every flaw in my life and writing and so forth, is really having a good time with this right now–that if you’re worried about the story being problematic, then it probably is.

On the other hand, I thought Bury Me in Shadows might be problematic, and it wasn’t. So maybe this story isn’t as bad as I think it might be, who knows? I am often not the best judge of my own work, after all–the lack of confidence in my own writing really is not good for me at all–and who knows if I will ever get the chance to publish it again anywhere other than a collection of my own (where I can count on my publisher saving me from myself if it is problematic?), so maybe–just maybe–after I finish the proofs for Streetcar this weekend, I can give the story another once over, and give it a shot.

I slept really well last night. When I got home from work last night I laundered all the bed linens, did another load of dishes, and then just kind of chilled for the rest of the evening as I was a bit mentally tired. I managed to get all the copy edits back to everyone for the Bouchercon anthology; I’m still waiting to get a few of them back and I can turn the manuscript in. I have a self-care appointment this morning at ten; then I am going to come back home and work on the page proofs and maybe carve out some time to read some more of In the Dark We Forget, which I am really enjoying and would love to finish reading this weekend. I need to make myself read for an hour every night; if I read for an hour every day I will gradually work my way through the TBR pile. I think the next book I am going to read is going to be Curtis Ippolito’s Burying the Newspaper Man, although the new Donna Andrews is probably going to be delivered sometime soon, as well as Gabino Iglesias’ new one. I also want to get some filing and cleaning done today–Paul has to go to the office to meet his tech person because his computer is messed up–and I think I am also going to get a box down from the attic to sort through as well as go through some drawers to throw shirts and shorts and things I never wear out. I also plan on getting through all the emails in my inbox at some point this weekend as well; I am tired of all those goddamned emails being in there, you know what I mean?

It also occurred to me yesterday that I should send the Word file of Jackson Square Jazz to my iPad so I can reread and copy edit it on there. Progress can only be made when you set yourself up to succeed, which sounds like one of those horrible motivational posters that were such a thing sometime in my past–they were in office spaces everywhere and always made me want to roll my eyes whenever I saw one. But I slept really well last night, which was incredibly lovely, and I am looking forward to getting quite a bit done this weekend. I already feel rested, which is really nice, and the Lost Apartment isn’t the usual disaster area it always appears to me when Saturday rolls around again. Sure, there’s stuff I need to clean up and organize and there’s always filing to do–not to mention the computer files that need clearing and cleaning up–but after my self-care and my errands, I should be able to come on home and dig into my work that needs to be done.

And on that note, I can actually get started on that before I get ready to leave for my appointment, so have a lovely Saturday, Constant Reader, and I will check in with you again tomorrow, or perhaps even later again today.

Rhiannon (Will You Ever Win)

She rings like a bell in the night…

And we have managed to circle back around to Friday yet again. Hurray! I have a training at work this morning (I think it’s “conflict resolution”, and I am astounded that management feels I need this, LOL–just kidding, it’s mandatory for everyone in department), and then I have a lot of things to get done at the office for the rest of my workday before I call the weekend’s beginning, which is rather exciting. I have some major things to get done that I am behind on, but have full confidence I can get it all done. I am going to order groceries for pick-up on Sunday morning (I love this) and I have some self-care scheduled for tomorrow morning; I am thinking I may even attempt a return to the gym this weekend as well. Scared o’that, you know? But it’s kind of past time.

I am not even tired this morning. It’s felt like I’ve not been sleeping deeply this week, but I have felt rested and relaxed all week, only getting tired in the evenings after I get home from work and do some chores around the house, which is not normal for me, but I like it. I woke up before the alarm this morning–Fridays I get to sleep an extra hour, which is quite lovely–and again, don’t feel any fatigue or anything; this is hopefully a good sign. I’m not sure what changed during my COVID infection, but it’s like something changed? Maybe I am tired, but since it’s not the same kind of fatigue/exhaustion I was experiencing during the COVID Times it’s not as noticeable and doesn’t bother me as much as it did before the pink line showed up on my at-home test? It is indeed possible that could be fact.

We watched the latest episode of American Horror Stories last night, and while episode two was vastly superior to episode one, it still wasn’t quite there. Both episodes were clever in concept, but didn’t completely deliver in execution (so often the case with things from Ryan Murphy), but it was entertaining, and then we finished season two of Into the Night, which is this amazing Belgian/French co-production that is non-stop stress, anxiety and drama–and very well done. The concept behind the show is that the sun has turned toxic, killing anyone and everything exposed to it–to the point where it even ruins gasoline and jet fuel and food–and in the first season, everyone was on a plane when they realized what was going on and turned around to fly west to stay ahead of the sun. At the end of Season One they’d managed to land the plane and find a military bunker, prepared for survival; season two is all the drama that one might expect from civilians and military personnel sharing an underground bunker and trying to get along and of course, conflict arises. No one else seems to be watching the show or talking about it, which is a real shame, but it’s quite good and its international cast is stellar. Quite marvelous. This is how you pull off high concept in a television series.

One thing I absolutely have to do is clean out my email inbox this weekend, for sure. Sheesh. It got out of control while I was sick and all I’ve been able to manage to do is stay current with new emails and so forth. I really want that marvelous experience of having an empty inbox again.

So, I have a lot to get done over the next few days, and feel pretty good about the possibilities of getting it all done in the meantime. I’ll have to get and stay motivated–tonight I need to do laundry and dishes, start putting things away and organizing, etc.–and I think we might watch The Gray Man tonight because why not?

And on that note, I’m getting another cup of coffee and heading into the spice mines. Have a lovely Friday, Constant Reader.

Sorcerer

Thursday Thursday–Thor’s Day. Last day of getting up at six for the week–tomorrow I get to sleep in till seven, woo-hoo–and while I am not feeling tired this morning I am also not completely awake. I think I slept well last night–it’s always hard to tell–but I feel rested this morning. How long will that feeling last remains to be seen…but I think we have a fairly light client schedule at the office today. That would be nice, of course, but I don’t expect it to happen either. It could easily have filled up yesterday after I left for the day early. I had a check-up with my primary care physician, nothing more than the every-six-month check-up so my prescriptions can get refilled, but it’s really in everyone’s best interest that my Alprazolam get refilled, trust me on this.

We watched the new episode of Only Murders in the Building but I have to say, I am not loving this season the way I loved the first. It just seems like there are a lot of filler episodes and not much actual crime-solving, as there was in the first season, or maybe the novelty of it has worn off. I still think Martin Short and Steve Martin are fantastic as two of the series leads (I go back and forth on Selena Gomez), but it seems like this season is all over the map and we’re still no closer to finding out who killed Bunny as we were at the end of season one. We’ve also been watching the second season of Into the Night, a French/Belgian thriller series that’s a nonstop adrenaline-based thrill ride from the very start.

After my appointment yesterday, I was tired when I got home to the Lost Apartment. It had been raining most of the day, and after my appointment I decided to run a couple of errands–pick up the mail, make a very small grocery run–and of course, there was flooding going on in Uptown, which always makes me nervous to have to drive through. I also have to go get the mail again today after work, because some packages were alas delivered after I stopped in yesterday, and I also have to stop at CVS to see what the deal with my prescriptions is (it looks like two of them were filled, but it also has that Check with your pharmacy about your refills note appended to them, so I don’t know what that means and it also shows that I don’t have any ready for pick-up either; so I can swing by there and talk to them today after I get the mail and head home.

I also have a personal-care appointment on Saturday morning, and I think I may just go ahead and order groceries on-line again this weekend–why the hell not? Save myself the hassle of actually doing the actual shopping itself, so perhaps I should start thinking about what to order. Hmmm.

And I scheduled my blood draw for the biannual check-in for Monday morning, so I can just wake up, wash my face and brush my teeth, roll out to the car and get it done before I eat or drink anything–yay, fasting–but these are the things you need to get taken care of regularly when you’re of A Certain Age. (Interesting title that would make, no? A Certain Age. I like it.) And I hope to get everything else that is needing to get done by Sunday….done by Sunday.

And on that note, I am heading into the spice mines. Have a lovely Thor’s Day, Constant Reader.

Trouble in Shangri-La

Wednesday morning and out of nowhere, my insomnia returned last night. I am assuming it was an aberration of some sort; too much brain usage yesterday after a long respite or something like that. I don’t feel either sleepy or tired or mentally fatigued or anything this morning, so hopefully I can make it through the day without it being challenging. I also get to leave work early this afternoon because I have a doctor’s appointment. Nothing serious, just the semi-annual check-up/prescription refill once over, and that will get me home much earlier than usual. Maybe I can get some more work done tonight when I get home from work. Stranger things have happened. At the very least, I should be able to get back to reading my book, Sandra SG Wong’s marvelous In the Dark We Forget, which I am enjoying tremendously.

We finished watching Mind Over Murder last night–the final episode finally dropped–and it’s really such a sad story on every level. I don’t know, the more of these documentaries that are made and the more injustices they expose on a far-too-regular basis makes me wonder about the police and the job they are doing. I wouldn’t ever want to be a cop–under any circumstance–but at the same time, yikes. Big time yikes on every level. I mean, as I was watching this last night I was thinking about how in most countries everyone fears the police, who are agents of the state and often above the law…and how this is one of the few countries in the world that celebrates the police, embracing them, when the truth is the Constitution was written to define the rights of citizens to protect us from abuses from agents of the state. There’s some essay forming in my head about this, to be sure.

In other exciting news, I got some ARCS for A Streetcar Named Murder in yesterday’s mail, and the book looks fantastic. I absolutely love the cover, and I appreciate that they drew the cat to resemble Scooter–the cat in the book is also named Scooter, and now that I think about, I think Scotty has a cat named Scooter. That’s me, immortalizing my cat in literature for all time. I am trying to cap my excitement about the book (naturally, I am very excited about it, but trying to rein it in a bit)–and of course, have been having all kinds of Imposter Syndrome thoughts about it not selling and getting bad reviews and so forth–but I am going to just go on being happy right now that the book is finished, for all intents and purposes (still have to proof the pages this weekend) and going to focus on getting the Bouchercon anthology finished as well as getting underway with Mississippi River Mischief. I’m kind of excited to be writing about Scotty again–funny how writing him never feels old to me; I always get a bit happy about going to revisit his world and his circle of family and friends–and writing it also means having to do a bit of travel and research outside of New Orleans, since the book is going to be partially set in a fictitious river or bayou parish. (Which I have cleverly named St. Jeanne d’Arc–although that begs the question of why there isn’t actually a St. Jeanne d’Arc parish in Louisiana…)

A quick glance at my inbox also shows that the edits for my story “Solace in a Dying Hour” have also dropped, so that’s something else to go on the agenda/to-do list for this week. I am really proud of this story, to be honest, and I am really curious to see the edits (one of the co-editors is who I worked with on the Sherlock story “The Affair of the Purloined Rentboy,” and her edits were fucking AMAZING) and see how much more work is needed on the story. I also have until Sunday to decide whether to submit that story I am not sure about anymore to that anthology I wanted to submit it to–that was quite a sentence, wasn’t it?–but I don’t know about it, you know? Although I suppose if it is really horrifically tone deaf and offensive they won’t accept it…but I also don’t want anyone else to read it if it is offensive and tone deaf. Ah, well, I have until the weekend to decide one way or the other.

I also am about half-way finished with getting the copy edits to the contributors to the Bouchercon anthology. I probably won’t get much, if any, of that done today, but stranger things have happened. Maybe when I get home early tonight Scooter won’t be whiny and demanding a lap to fall asleep in…or not.

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

Whenever I Call You Friend

And it’s back to the office with me today.

It feels weird, no lie. I haven’t been up this early in quite a while, and I would imagine it’s going to take more than a hot minute for me to get used to it again. I slept well last night, but there’s just something about being jarred out of sleep by an alarm that feels disruptive, and inevitably means I wind up feeling tired/sleepy all day because to my mind, the alarm means I didn’t get enough sleep. I did wake up around two, four, and five, but was able to go back to sleep relatively easily; there was a part of me that thought, when I woke up at five, that I should go ahead and get up. But the bed felt comfortable, the blankets comforting, and I could stay there, relaxed and comfortable, for another hour so I closed my eyes and turned over and went back to sleep. It’s going to be a rough week for sure–getting used to being back at work after being sick so long; I don’t think I’ve ever been out of the office this long for being sick, let alone on vacation or anything else–but soon enough it will be the weekend again, so there’s that.

It must be extremely humid this morning because my sinuses are reacting, so I had to take a Claritin-D to calm that the fuck down. Now that I am gradually coming awake, I feel much better than I did when I first rolled out of bed this morning. Hopefully that will be the case for the rest of the day. It’s going to feel weird being back in the office this morning; and hopefully that weirdness will wear off sooner rather than later. I didn’t get as much done last night after I finished my work-at-home chores for the day, I was a bit tired and my eyes were buggy (data entry has that effect on me) so I retired to my easy chair to do some reading. My mind was wandering and I couldn’t focus on something new, so I regretfully left my Sandra SG Wong novel on the end table and opened up Royal Street Reveillon on my iPad, to sort of get a sense of what was going on with Scotty and the boys before really starting to dig into the new one. I had a side-story I was thinking about adding into it, but now am not so sure or certain that I can either pull it off, or will have the time to do it properly. One can certainly hope, at any rate. But I did manage to make a substantial to-do list for this week, and hopefully by sticking to it and checking it every morning I can make a plan for getting things done throughout the day every day this week.

I can’t believe next Monday is the first of August. Where did this year go? I will be sixty-one in less than thirty days. Yikes!

There’s a deadline for an anthology I had wanted to submit to this coming weekend, but the story I had on hand that I just wanted to revise and polish a bit–I’m not so sure I want to go ahead and submit it without rereading it thoroughly and thinking about it some more, and there may not be time for me to do any of that (if things go the way they usually do, and getting up early makes me tired and not as productive as I could be in the early evenings after I get home) before this weekend–and I have the page proofs of Streetcar to get through, and I have to finish the Bouchercon anthology at some point, which is looming large on the schedule. Losing all that time to COVID was not a help at all in most respects, other than the lengthy break from working and getting so much rest that my body clearly desperately needed–although as always, the exhaustion/fatigue of the illness had me worried that it had nothing to do with being sick and everything to do with my body changing as it ages, and that fatigue was something I was going to have to live with for the rest of my life. That was an absolutely terrifying prospect, especially because knowing that it was the illness (and has now passed) doesn’t mean that all-encompassing fatigue is not, in fact, in my future as a part of being old–which is why I really need to start getting back to the gym and getting my body back into shape. I don’t need to be lean and ripped anymore, like the guys I feature here every day with the blog; that vanity is long gone and continues to grow smaller in the rear view mirror. For me now, getting back to the gym and working out is more about being healthier, working my muscles and keeping them loose and limber and strong, which inevitably brings with it the side effect of more energy and better, more restful sleep. Walking to the gym in the weather we are currently having–the soup-like gumbo of humidity and excessive heat–isn’t particularly appealing to me either, but neither is taking the car to drive five blocks to go work out.

So, I am hoping that today will be a good day as I ease back into my normal routine. A good day seeing my clients, getting work done, and then picking up the mail on my way home. There’s laundry to fold and dishes to put away tonight; tomorrow I have to leave work early because I have a doctor’s appointment. And on that note, I am heading into the spice mines. Hope your Tuesday is a special one, Constant Reader, because you deserve the best! Talk to you tomorrow, okay?

Every Day

I actually love being a writer.

I love everything about the creative process. I like creating characters and coming up with stories for them. I like actually writing, even while I complain about it. I am not fond of deadlines, and I think we can all agree that I am horrible at marketing, but the writing itself? I love it.

I slowly started working my way back into writing again yesterday–I did about 1400 words on a project yesterday, and just like exercise, the muscles were creaky and rusty and had to get moving again. But I also wrote 1400 words–regardless of whether they’re any good or not, regardless of whether I’ll throw them all out or keep some, regardless, I wrote 1400 words yesterday and it felt very good. I did some chores, I ran an errand, and I feel like yesterday was a good day for me, a lovely bridge from being sick and doing little or nothing to getting back into the chair, looking at the computer, and typing away as the words come to my mind. I kind of like that, a lot. That’s why I’ll always write, even after I’ve lost my audience and no one wants to publish me anymore, I’ll still write and create and scribble in journals and hear phrases and think oh that would make a GREAT title, wouldn’t it?

Yeah, I don’t think I’ll ever be able to shut down that part of my brain.

I also found my Tennessee Williams quote for the opening of Mississippi River Mischief, and it’s from the short one-act play Auto-da-fé: “You harp on purity, purity all the time, and yet you’re willing to stay in the middle of corruption.”

Nice, right?

Yesterday was the first time since I fell ill that I actually felt like a writer again, and that was really nice. I’ve often commented on the strange duality of my life; of being a lower-level employee at my day job while at the same time coming home after work and being interviewed for a national podcast. A strange disconnect, to be sure, at the very least and a bizarre bipolarity at the worst. I like my job because it keeps me humble–I do have an ego, but it’s pretty fragile, so I try to keep it under wraps and under as much control as I can, and going from doing a reading for a room full of people or talking about writing on a panel to a room filled with people to being someone who simply does what he’s told and has no say in anything within my department and my job cannot help but keep the ego (which I don’t like having to an extent) down, which is a good thing.

We finished watching Chucky last night, and it’s fun but…not particularly good. An understanding of the film series is necessary, as it turns out; the show is a continuation of the mythology from the movies rather than a reboot or a reimagining, so there are times when I found myself not really sure what was going on and having to google the film series to get a sense of the story and why these things were happening in the show. I think it was kind of cool–a wink to the long-time fan of the movies, which is the kind of thing I appreciate (the Scream television series could have done a lot more of this, frankly, which would have made the show a lot more fun than it was, rather than just a complete reinvention of the franchise), even if I never saw any of the movies (nor am I likely to).

And today I have to get caught up on everything that I fell behind on. While I usually work at home on Mondays, I’ve not been into the office since the Thursday before last, and I think it’s probably a good idea to go ahead and go in today and get things taken care of before I come in tomorrow to see clients again. I feel mentally and physically rested, which is a good thing–Paul tested negative yesterday as well so it’s over for both of us, which is really nice–and it feels like it’s been a very long time since I could say that. Granted, right before I got sick I had traveled for the weekend and then dove right back into work as soon as I got home, so I was feeling tired and run down already when the viral infection took hold and knocked me on my ass for nearly nine days–eight since I tested positive, which makes me worry that I may have been already infected and been infectious before I started staying home, but I also tested myself that Thursday before I tested positive on Friday morning (since a co-worker had gotten sick) so the Friday morning test was a follow-up to getting up and the nasal congestion issue, if I recall correctly.

And now it’s time to head into the spice mines. Have a lovely Monday, Constant Reader.

Planets of the Universe

Sunday morning in the Lost Apartment and I slept really well again last night. I feel really rested now that I am over the virus, and the absence of the brain fog (which I feared was simply another sign in the inevitable decline of age) has been simply wonderful. I made groceries yesterday, taking advantage of the “order on-line/pick-up when you get there” systems which are marvelous and I will probably continue to use going forward. I do have to run an errand at some point this morning, but it isn’t really much of anything and it shouldn’t be an issue. I did manage to read some more of Sandra SG Wong’s wonderful In the Dark We Forget, which I am going to spend some time with this morning as well, and I am going to try to write and get some other things organized today. I did make some progress yesterday on things, but I also kind of took it easy on myself. I don’t want to overdue my recovery and potentially relapse–I’ve heard this is a thing, and that one must carefully dip one’s toe back in and slowly reenter the water slowly after getting over this monstrous thing. So, although I really want to just dive in headfirst and work on things all day today, I think I am going to continue to take it easy. Monday is usually my work-at-home day, but I think I am going to actually go into the office tomorrow–I’ve not been in for well over a week–and so it just kind of makes sense to me to go in. I don’t have to see clients tomorrow, for one, and so it’ll just be an easy way to ease back into going to the office as well.

We finished watching Special on Netflix, which was interesting and poignant and funny, and then watched a wonderful documentary about Showgirls, You Don’t Nomi–if you’re a Showgirls fan than you’ll really enjoy You Don’t Nomi (I also read It Doesn’t Suck, the academic book about it from a few years ago as well; it made me think about writing my own essay about the movie–because, of course, I think I should write about everything at one point or another)–and then started watching Chucky on Peacock, which was a lot more fun and better done than I would have thought. I didn’t expect the main character of the show to be a fourteen-year-old gay kid, which makes it a LOT more interesting than I would have originally thought. I’d never seen any of the Chucky movies–but I have a basic idea of what they were about, and I don’t think–at least not so far, but we’re only an episode in–you need to go back to watch the movies to pick up on things you can’t enjoy the series not knowing.

I also need to make a to-do list, update when my bills are due for August on my calendar, and of course, try to get some cleaning and organizing done around my home office workspace. Heavy heaving sigh. It never really ends, does it? LOL. It’s also been raining a lot this weekend–torrential downpours, with minor street flooding–but it looks sunny and very warm out there this morning. It also occurred to me last night that I’ve not had an entire week off from work in the last twelve years other than our trip to Italy in 2014 (eight years ago), so part of this slightly weird disconnect I’m feeling from everything probably has something to do with that. I am not, however, going to allow myself to get stressed out by how behind I am or how much work I have to get done. That doesn’t help and also causes paralysis of a sort. No, the thing to do is make a list, get everything organized as everything needs to be organized, and just start getting things done.

Step one is to get all this mess sorted and put away, which is what I am going to do right now before I put away the dishes. Then I’ll start working on my lists.

So I think I am going to head into the spice mines this morning. Have a lovely day, Constant Reader, and I will check in with you again later.

Free Fallin’

When I was being interviewed for the Sisters in Crime podcast the other night, Julie Hennrikus (their marvelous executive director) asked me, through a series of interesting questions, to basically start tracing back my writing career and how it came to pass–in particular, the young adult fiction I write (for that part of the interview, at any rate) and so I was recounting how I had decided, in the early 1990’s, to try writing y/a horror/paranormal/crime novels, inspired by Christopher Pike and, to a lesser degree, R. L. Stine. This was the period when I wrote the first drafts for Sorceress, Sara, and Sleeping Angel…and when asked why I put them in a drawer and switched back to writing crime novels for adults (or trying to, at any rate) I remembered that it was because I had suddenly discovered that there was, in fact, such a thing as queer mysteries: mysteries written by gays and lesbians with gay and lesbian characters and gay and lesbian themes (there wasn’t much trans or bisexual or any other kind of queer crime fiction at that time–at least, not to my knowledge). I had known that queer fiction and non-fiction was a thing, but it was Paul who actually introduced me to writers like Michael Nava, Steve Johnson, and Richard Stevenson. When I lived in Minneapolis that bitterly cold winter of 1996, the Borders in Uptown Square (just around the block from our apartment) had an enormous gay/lesbian section that I visited every week, immersing myself in queer fiction and its history as well as exploring the new-to-me world of queer crime novels.

In the years since, I’ve watched the ups-and-downs of queer publishing, all while writing and publishing my own books. Queer crime is currently having a renaissance of sorts; new talents coming up with wonderful new titles and themes and stories that is very exciting to watch.

A good example of this would be Devil’s Chew Toy, by Rob Osler.

Half opening my good eye, I squinted up at the fluorescent tube hanging from the stained popcorn ceiling. The club’s manager had suggested the storeroom as a place for me to chill until my nose stopped bleeding. I appreciated the gesture. The idea was a win-win. It saved me from the pointing and whispers of the crowd, and getting me off the dance floor restored the party atmosphere typical of a weekend night at Hunters.

Despite the damage done to my face, the worst of the experience had been me being the center of attention for all the wrong reasons–embarrassing for most, excruciating for yours truly. Everyone who knew me would say I was quiet and reserved–perhaps to a fault. My latest ex has joked that my tolerance for thrill-seeking maxed out on the teacups ride at Disneyland. I’d brushed off the comment with a laugh, but in truth, the remark had stung. Being five foote four (rounding up) and weighing 125 (again, rounding up) makes one sensitive to such jabs. Add in the fact that I’m freckled and possess a shock of red-orange hair that that same ex had pegged as being the color of a Cheetos bag, and you understand why I make take offense.

“Damn, dude, you’re going to have a nasty shiner. Does it hurt?”

First of all, can I just say how lovely it is to read a queer novel that opens in a gay bar? It’s been a while since I’ve read one, and I honestly can’t remember the last time I read one that wasn’t published by a strictly queer publisher–which Crooked Lane, the publisher of Devil’s Chew Toy, most definitely is not. It was also nice to have the book open with such a bizarre and out of the ordinary experience–our main character, Hayden, was kicked in the face in a weird accident while trying to tip a really hot stripper, Camilo, who slipped and fell, ending with Hayden looking like he’s been in a fistfight. Hayden, who is a self-described “pocket gay” (from “oh you’re so small I could put you in my pocket and take you home”) and has low self-esteem, is more than a little surprised when the apologetic and gorgeous stripper offers to take Hayden home with him. Camilo is a very sweet guy and only wants to cuddle, and Hayden drifts off to sleep cuddled up with him.

But when he wakes up, Camilo is gone. Camilo also has a dog who needs to be taken care of, and then the police show up at the door looking for Camilo–whose pick-up truck was found, running, with the keys in it and the doors open, in a parking lot. There’s also the possibility that Camilo may have been involved in something shady–which Hayden, despite not really knowing the stripper, doesn’t believe for a minute. He also can’t just abandon Camilo’s dog–despite the fact his own apartment complex has a “no-pet” rule. So Hayden decides he needs to find Camilo, if for no other reason than to return his dog–and the story is off to the races. Hayden encounters all kinds of interesting queer folk while on his hunt for Camilo, makes some new friends, and we the reader get to know him a lot better (he’s very likable) as the story goes on, taking some surprising twists and turns along the way.

I greatly enjoyed this book. It’s very well written, flows nicely, and the plot makes sense–which isn’t always the case–but that comes as no surprise. Rob Osler not only debuted with this novel earlier this year, but his first publisher short story won the Robert L. Fish Memorial Award from Mystery Writers of America this past spring for Outstanding Debut Short Story.

I’m really looking forward to visiting with Hayden again, and am excited to read more of Rob’s work.

Candlebright

I slept in again this morning–which has been happening alot, which means I am going to have to get used to getting up early again next week because this morning’s COVID test came back negative. It’s finally over. Yesterday I still felt a little worn down and fatigued, but managed to get things done (not much, really; but some laundry and dishes and some reading and so forth–I was afraid to overdo it, even though I felt good; cautious and concerned about a relapse), but now that I can safely confirm that I am out of the woods, it’s time to start easing myself back into my life. I ordered groceries for curbside pick-up this morning, so once I get that text I’ll drive over to pick them up, but…I’m over everything. It is now safe for me to go out in public (wearing a mask, believe me; I know that doesn’t really protect me but other people, but I can’t help but remember that it was when I allowed myself to get more lax with the masking that I got infected. So yes, intellectually I know it’s not helping but emotionally it makes me feel better to do so, so I am going with the emotions over the intellect on this one) again, and it also means I can finally return to work on Monday. Monday is usually my work at home day, but having been out of the office for the last week, I kind of feel like I probably should pop in on Monday and make my presence known again.

Plus, I have to get all the sick time bullshit sorted–and might as well do that on a day when I don’t have clients.

Huzzah? Huzzah indeed.

We finished the second season of Condor last night, which was enjoyable. If you’re into espionage/political thrillers, this is a very good one. Ben Irons (Jeremy’s son) is really good in the lead as Joe Turner, a low-level CIA employee who catches on to something major in the first season and everything goes to shit for him from there–like the book and movies it was based on (the movie was Three Days of the Condor, starring Robert Redford; the book was Six not Three. I watched this as part of my Cynical 70’s Film Festival during the shutdown/work at home times). I have a copy of the book, by Richard Condon, that it in my enormous TBR pile. I’ve wanted to read it (along with The Manchurian Candidate) because these old political thrillers are interesting to me, with their extreme paranoia and evil Communist archetypes. I want to read them not only for their value as political thrillers but as remnants of a past time that could be said to also border on propaganda–painting the Communists, particularly the Soviet Union–as the bad guys. (This is not to say that the Soviet leadership weren’t bad people–some of them most definitely were–but their national interest also opposed to ours, so from their point of view Americans were the bad guys; that whole “no villain sees themselves as a villain” thing we talk about in character workshops and panels.)

It was also incredibly weird and strange resting so much over the last eight days. I have to recognize the fact that part of how I am feeling–the strangeness–is because I am actually no longer tired. I am always tired, apparently; not really sure why that is other than not getting enough sleep or something along those lines, but this morning, after sleeping off and on almost regularly for eight days, I feel rested this morning. Which means I can get all kinds of things done today–slowly easing myself back into my life, as it were–and plan to spend some time with Sandra SG Wong’s riveting In the Dark We Forget, should do some writing and editing, and then there’s of course all the cleaning and filing and organizing that needs to be done. I need to update my bills list, I need to make a new to-do list, I need to reread and revise a story one last time before submitting it to an anthology I want to get it into; and may I add how lovely it is not to have the brain fog this morning? My head is clear, and that feels amazing. My throat still feels a little bit more raw than I would prefer, and now I know that post-nasal drip is sinus related and a Claritin-D will take care of it. Huzzah!

I also don’t feel terribly daunted about getting started digging out from under the piles of everything that gathered while i was sick and foggy and exhausted, either–which is another good sign. I know it sounds weird, but now that I am sixty (sixty-one in less than a month; there’s still time to get a card and buy a gift, you know) I always worry that things aren’t necessarily related to an illness but rather are a permanent change to my life and my body and my brain. Our bodies and brains don’t come with user manuals, after all, so we are best off just getting by the best we can and always have to wonder. I was worried that the brain fog, for example, wasn’t something related to the COVID plague but rather a shift in my head that goes along with my age, you know? My memory has already become a lot more specious and less-specific than it used to be; I no longer remember things that were committed to memory just a few years ago. Admittedly, a lot of it was trivial information that really only came in handy when you’re playing Jeopardy or Trivial Pursuit, but damn it, I used to always run the categories and rarely, if ever, lost at Trivial Pursuit and those days are sadly long past me now.

And I also feel relatively certain you’re tired of listening to me whine about being sick–well, you don’t have to worry about reading about that any longer, Constant Reader. I was even taking notes on some thoughts about Mississippi River Mischief yesterday in my journal.

And on that note, I am going to get cleaned up so that when I get the text that my groceries are ready I can head down to the store for curbside pick-up, which will be lovely. Have a wonderful Saturday, Constant Reader, and I will check in with you again tomorrow.

Blue Lamp

Friday and day seven. I am sick of being sick, and even more tired of talking about it–I can hear you cheering in the distance, Constant Reader, so my apologies for the tedium of my posts ever since the test came back positive last Friday. But–as a public service–I will mention that the newer strains of the virus last longer; since I continued testing positive more than five days after the initial positive test, it is most likely I have one of the new strains which can last up to ten days. My tenth day will be this coming Monday; our medical compliance officer at work has told me to continue isolating and test again on Monday. But yesterday was one of the best days I’ve had since the first positive test, so I think I may actually be in the home stretch. The fatigue and brain fog didn’t kick in again until after three yesterday, so the morning wasn’t so bad, and of course once it had set in I retired to my chair and drifted in and out of sleep for the rest of the evening while watching more episodes of Condor, which is really a pretty good, and under-appreciated, show; I only became aware of it because Apple TV suggested it to me since we’d watched The Little Drummer Girl.

So those “since you watched you might like” suggestions sometimes actually are good suggestions.

I’m hoping that today won’t be a wash–as I have every morning since this all began–so that I can sort of start making progress again. It feels like I’ve been home isolating for much longer than the week it has actually been, and I feel like I’ve lost the reins of my life somewhat. I have managed to start getting some work around the Lost Apartment taken care of–laundry, dishes, some light cleaning–in bits and pieces and spurts of energy here and there. I am hoping to, at some point today, be able to take stock of where I am and what needs to be done and get moving again on everything. I know I am way behind–this couldn’t have come at a much worse time for me, really–as I have to do the copy edits on the Bouchercon anthology and I’ve got to proof the galleys for A Streetcar Named Murder at some point, at the very leas–and when you add in the fact that it’s almost August–yeah, that deadline for the new Scotty is going to be here before I know it, and then I’ll start freaking out about that deadline before you know it. Time seems to simply slip through my fingers…but as always, that’s really nothing new.

I also have to say I highly approve of this new “curbside pick-up/delivery” option everyone has these days. I am going to pick up my grocery order tomorrow without any contact, which will be lovely, and of course I had Costco delivered over the weekend. Gosh, if I could just end up getting everything delivered or picked-up, this could be completely life changing (and yes, I am well aware these options existed before COVID, but I kind of have always thought that it was–stupidly, I know–more for people who had issues with going inside the store and so forth, and never wanted to interfere with services for those who need them when I am capable of going inside. Well, FUCK that from now on. It’s delivery or curbside pick-up from now on). It frees up time, and if it’s less exhausting for me–going to grocery shop has always worn me out, especially in the brutal heat of a New Orleans summer–then this is definitely the way to go from now on.

And on that note, methinks I am going to go sit in my chair for a moment or two–I just had a bit of a dizzy spell as I was typing, and so I think I also need to eat something. I will check in with you tomorrow, Constant Reader–stay safe and healthy out there.