A little bleary this Monday work at home morning–another good night’s sleep in the books–and my morning coffee should do the trick–and thus I will be reacclimated back to my normal life and some sort of what passes for my normal reality and real life again. I had a very relaxing day yesterday trying to unwind from the trip and get my land legs, as it were, back; I got some things done yet not enough, which is par for the course. Paul and I also finished Ozark–I imagine its ending is controversial; I wasn’t really surprised by it, to be honest–and dove back into Severance, which is truly bizarre and a very slow, unemotional burn–and then we both went to bed early. I have to work at home today and run a couple of errands at some point (Scooter needs to be retrieved from the kitty spa and I need to get the mail and groceries), as well as my work-at-home duties (data to enter, condoms to pack) and all kinds of others things. There never seems to be enough time in the day to get to everything i need to go to, but sometimes you just need to keep your head down and work your way through your to-do list.
The trip last week was invigorating and definitely raised my spirits; it was a needed and necessary reconnection with my crime community, which was marvelous. It is terrible and sad that I haven’t seen some of my friends in nearly (if not more than) four years; my last pre-pandemic appearance out of town was Bouchercon in St. Petersburg, so 2018. That’s a very long time to be away from connecting with the community and could be a significant part of the strange distance I’ve been feeling from…well, everywhere, to be honest. It was lovely dressing up (even if the pants I wore two weeks earlier in Albuquerque were suddenly strangely tighter in the waist) and putting on nice clothes; I also survived my brief stint at the podium on Edgar night. (The temptation to drink was very strong, but I declined all alcohol until I was off-stage.)
But now, it’s Monday morning after and the afterglow has somewhat faded and we are back to the cold harsh light of reality this morning. I have writing to do and chores and all kinds of other tasks and things to do. I am speaking as a guest at Spirit of Ink on Saturday; being interviewed by Jaden Terrell, whom I’ve known for years since we were both on the MWA board together. That’ll be nice, and I think at some point this week that Ira Levin ZOOM thing I did from my room in New York will be up and available somewhere on-line (I’ll share the link should I ever get one; it was a bit fun talking about Ira Levin and surprise twists). I am not feeling terribly overwhelmed this morning, or daunted; that will come soon enough, no doubt–it always does–but I am feeling a lot better about the non-stop Imposter Syndrome that is pretty much my entire life these days. It’s also gorgeous outside; it’s May so the heat is back and the humidity won’t be far behind; nor will the stinging caterpillars and the swarms of Formosan termites that generally return with Mother’s Day like the swallows of Capistrano.
And soon it will be summer, with the sweating and the misery and the high Entergy bills. But I want to also start working out again more regularly (it’s been a hot minute since I’ve set foot in the gym, so I am going to have to slowly start working my way back into it again, Jesus) and should probably start eating more healthy; the tightness of the waist of my pants at the Edgars was yet another signal that it’s only going to get harder to lose weight the older I get (which is sadly true for everyone–so don’t keep putting off your fitness regimen, people–don’t be Gregalicious) but I think discipline and dedication will do the trick.
And on that note, I think I am going to get another cup of coffee and try to dive into my emails before I have to start working. Have a splendid Monday, Constant Reader–I will be back here at the crack of dawn tomorrow as I ease back into my day job at the office.
I’m both excited and nervous for the trip, to be honest; nervous about having to speak at the banquet for one thing, excited to be in New York and to see friends for another. Today is going to be, around clients, last minute attempts to get ready for the trip, making a packing list to make sure I don’t run off tomorrow morning to the airport without things packed that i will need once I am there (I forgot something rather important for Alburquerque), and hoping, always hoping, that I will be able to sleep once I am there. I’ve slept well for the last few days, which has been really nice, and fingers crossed that will continue once I travel. The flight is nonstop on the way there; we have to change planes in Nashville on the way back. I always am hopeful that things will go smoothly whenever I travel; there was some delays involved on my last trip but I think everything ran on time the last time I went to New York.
I continue to obsess about both season 5 of Elité as well as Heartstopper. I actually went ahead and got the graphic novels the show (Heartstopper) is based on (more on that to come), and really enjoyed reading them yesterday. I guess I never realized how much I needed to see a sweet young love story between teenagers? I’ve tried reading the big gay y/a novels over the last few years without much luck; I never was able to really connect with the characters or the stories I was trying to read (without much luck) and even some of the films/TV shows based on them, but they didn’t really engage me. I am happy these books and stories and their adaptations exist–representation matters, believe me, it does–but there’s nothing wrong with my not being able to enjoy them, either. I didn’t like much y/a fiction when I was an actual young adult, and maybe I do somewhat try to write the stories that I would have liked to have read when I was that age with my own work–I don’t know if I succeed with that or not; the jury remains out and probably will remain out until long after I die–but I also enjoy writing them. (Not that I am enjoying writing anything these days, but you know what I mean.)
I also continued to work on my CV yesterday–it’s close enough to complete now to turn over to my friend for the favor they asked for, needing a bit of editing and moving things around–but it’s now eleven or twelve pages long, and I could easily (well, not easily; it would require digging through boxes in storage to get all the fitness columns and book reviews and author interviews out that I wrote over the early years in my career) fill up probably another three to four pages. That’s pretty fucking long, really; I am now up to almost forty novels (there, if you count novellas as novels) and I think I need to count my short stories again as well. I also know I have a lot more essays out there somewhere…but as I said, a twelve page CV more than meets the requirements necessary for this current purpose.
Jesus Christ, I’ve written a lot since 1996–and this doesn’t even count all the drafts, unpublished stories, false starts on books that only got a few chapters in before running out of steam, essays, and most important of all–this fucking BLOG. Even if these only average 500 words per (and many of them run much longer), I’ve been doing this almost every day since December 2004. Eighteen fucking years. Assuming that I miss at least forty-five entries per year, I’ve written 103, 680 words (assuming the blogs are all 500 words). That’s fucking insane.
But I think I am going to read Ernest Hemingway’s To Have and Have Not next; I picked it up and opened to the first page yesterday and kind of actually got sucked into it. So I will read that at the airport and on the flight tomorrow and have a back-up in my backpack. I picked out other books to take with me on the trip, of course–and of course, there will be giveaways after the banquet on Thursday night to bring home–so I am all set on that score. And we watched some more of Severance last night (after a really bad gay movie called The Pass with Russell Tovey; I do not recommend it. It’s full of self-loathing and toxic masculinity and while the actors are good… yeah, the story leaves a lot to be desired), which I am really enjoying. I don’t know what’s going on yet–and I doubt very seriously that any of the questions I have are going to be answered in one season (we’re three seasons in on Servant and still have no fucking clue what is really going on in that household).
And on that note, I am heading into the spice mines. Happy Monday of Edgar week, Constant Reader!
WARNING: POTENTIAL SPOILERS AHEAD FOR EVERY SEASON OF ELITE.
One of the most moving moments during Left Coast Crime came during Raquel V. Reyes’ acceptance speech for Best Humorous Mystery for Mango, Mambo, and Murder. Raquel spoke very eloquently about her love for the crime fiction genre, and why it was so important for her to write a Latina sleuth heroine in her series: “Representation matters,” she emphasized, her voice breaking a little bit. This naturally got me to thinking about representation and its importance. It reminded me of the weird little boy in Chicago (and later, in the suburbs and on the plains of Kansas) who believed he was so weird, unnatural, and anything but normal; and how those rare appearances of gay men in fiction–scattered here and there in paperbacks–meant so much to me and made me feel, even if just for a moment, that I wasn’t strange and weird and an outsider. There were people like me out there somewhere, and maybe, just maybe, someday I’d find them and my community and feel like, finally, I belonged somewhere.
I was thinking about this very thing as Paul and I binged our way through Season 5 of our favorite show, Elité, on Netflix recently (the new season dropped while I was in Albuquerque).
I don’t remember how, when, or why Paul and I started watching Elité, but I am so glad we did. I know it was pre-pandemic, because I do remember both of us being concerned about when the fourth season would drop and whether it would be delayed because of the pandemic. But regardless of when we started watching, this Spanish-language Gossip Girl type show (far, far superior to Gossip Girl, sorry, stans, don’t @ me) really captured our imaginations and we became full fledged addicts. (The best way to describe the show is as a terrific hybrid of Gossip Girl and How to Get Away with Murder, yet better than both). I think part of it was the great cast–everyone was not only gorgeous, but they were remarkably talented as well, and the writing/plotting/story construction was superb; take note, American television series. I also greatly enjoyed the Ander/Omar romance, which began with both deeply closeted and meeting guys on hook-up apps, which is how they met. They began building a relationship, coming out to friends and family–it didn’t go well with Omar’s Palestinian parents–and their romance was given equal weight to that of their straight cast members; I don’t recall many shows where that happens. It was handled very well, and they literally became one of the show’s “super couples”, to borrow a daytime soap term. Fans loved them, and their romance was handled so beautifully that I was impressed, all the way from the terrors of the closet to fears about acceptance to actually coming out and developing a romance, with all the drama and upheavals young straight couples usually have to deal with. Omar and Ander were no different from any other romantic couple on the show; their story was just as important as the others, and there was never any sense of “oh they’re just pandering because we’ll always watch something with gay representation on it.”
And it wasn’t just Omar and Ander, either. Polo and Carla were in a long-term relationship since they were children; deeply in love and yet somehow bored with each other, both found themselves attracted to sexy new student Cristian; and that progressed from Polo watching Cristian and Carla together to joining them! Polo’s sexuality became a bit more murky than it was at the beginning. Is he bisexual, pan, or are they all three polyamorous? Carla and Polo end up breaking up and Cristian left the show after a tragic accident; but the intricacies and intrigues from their long-term relationship continued to play out and affect their storylines as well as others along the way. A lesbian romance was introduced into season 4, as well as a new villainous gay character, whose entire purpose was simply to be rebellious against his father and try to come between Omar and Ander. Played by the strikingly beautiful Manu Rios, I liked the idea of a manipulative gay villain (think Erica Kane as a gay man), but hoped they would flesh him out more. I felt Manu Rios was more talented than the material they were giving him, and hoped that in Season 5 we’d get to know him better.
(There are many other reasons I love the show–the other characters are also incredibly well developed, and their behavior fits their characters as they’ve developed along the way; no one ever acts in a way that doesn’t feel realistic simply to suit a story-line, something else American show runners should pay attention to.)
Season 5 literally dropped the Friday night I was in Albuquerque, and as soon as I got back to New Orleans, Paul and I started watching, and binged the entire season in like two nights. Season 4 wasn’t as good as the first three seasons (the bar was set high, to be fair), but it was also a transitional season; at least half of the cast graduated at the end of season three and thus left the show–which I thought was probably a good thing, despite losing some absolute favorite characters from those earlier seasons. Season 4 transitioned the story as the show added new cast members to replace those who’d left; so we didn’t enjoy it as much as we could have (more original cast members departed at the end of season 4) and so I was worried that Season 5 wouldn’t be as good, either…but I am delighted to report I was totally wrong on that score. -With Season 5, the show is back at the incredibly high level/standard it set for itself in those first three seasons, and while it is very hard to compare the one season with the interconnected stories of those first three, I don’t know. Season 5 might just be my favorite.
And of course, now that we’ve seen Season 5, the stage has been set for a very strong new, sixth season, and I literally cannot wait.
But the primary strength of this most-recent season comes from the further development of the character of Patrick, played by the stunningly beautiful young actor Manu Rios, through a truly terrific storyline that let us see sides of Patrick we’ve not seen before.
I mean, look at that stunning face.
The body isn’t too shabby, either.
Patrick joined the cast of characters, as I mentioned, in season 4. The openly gay character was primarily brought in as an agent of chaos: self-absorbed, narcissistic and rebelling against his strict father (the new principal), his role in season 4 was primarily to cause drama and disruption between the long-running gay romance storyline between Omar and Ander (again, and it can’t be said enough, how lovely was the Omar/Ander storyline, where a gay couple in a soapy show got the kind of story usually reserved for opposite sex teen couples?), so he was kind of a villain character–striking out angrily whenever he was hurt but inevitably causing more trouble for himself than for others, but the role was played with such sensitivity and style by Manu Rios that we as viewers couldn’t hate him the way we should have, the way we wanted to; since he was really “the other guy” and causing trouble between the already fraught Ander/Omar relationship we were all rooting for. Patrick was really nothing more than the latest obstacle to their happily ever after; but when Ander also left the show after season four, I wondered if Patrick and Omar would pick back up–it didn’t seem likely, but they were the gay characters, so…
And even I didn’t fully appreciate how talented Manu Rios was during season four–but that changed in a matter of moments in Season 5. I mean, I could see he was beautiful–anyone with eyes can see that–but could he turn what was essentially a one-note character into someone who seemed perfectly real to the viewers?
The answer was yes yes a thousand times yes.
You see, there’s a new student at Las Encinas in season 5, who catches Patrick’s eye on his first day: Ivan Carvalho, played by André Lamoglia.
This picture doesn’t do him justice in the least, either. He’s beautiful. And the way his face lights up when he smiles–utterly irresistible. (Lamoglia is also a remarkably good actor.) His father is a world-famous soccer player, Cruz Catalho, and there’s no sign or mention of Ivan’s mother. But Cruz lives the good life of the hard-partying rich superstar, often telling his uptight son–who’s moved around the world following his father’s career, unable to make lasting friends or set down roots anywhere as a result–to loosen up. Ivan just wants a normal life–with Cruz always telling him to relax and enjoy the great life Cruz is able to provide for him.
And the character is so kind and loving and understanding…it’s easy to see why Patrick would not only be attracted to him for his looks but drawn to him as a person. He sees Patrick in a way no one else ever has before. It’s impossible not to root for them to fall in love with each other.
Ivan first comes to Patrick’s attention when he is looking for directions to the high school locker room–which, at the time, didn’t strike me as odd but now looking back, it kind of does; he was in his gym clothes and in need of a shower, but I SUPPOSE that it’s entirely possible he could have gotten turned around–new school and all, I guess. Immediately interested and attracted to this handsome stranger, Patrick not only gives him directions but offers to take him there “since I was on my way there anyway.” They talk as they shower–but Ivan is onto Patrick; after the shower he points out with a smile, “you just wanted to shower with me to see me naked” he teases, pointing out Patrick’s arousal. As I mentioned, Ivan is breathtakingly gorgeous. When he smiles, you can’t do anything but melt. And yet, the two boys have undeniable chemistry.
But Ivan is straight. He keeps telling Patrick this, over and over again, but…
We actually first meet Ivan as he is getting ready for school, climbing over the passed out bodies in the living room to see if his father will drive him to school. Instead, Cruz winds up hugging the toilet and telling Ivan to take the car. During his first initial meeting with Patrick, Ivan definitely points out that he isn’t gay, but he’s not put off by Patrick’s sexuality, either. They can be friends–but that’s all it’s going to be. He knows Patrick is attracted to him, and he’s a bit of a tease; sending mixed signals that confuse and anger Patrick.
This, too, is an old trope of a story, and I was really not overly thrilled with it; it’s clichéd and one of the tired old reasons the homophobes trot out whenever they want to deny us our rightful place in society and culture: we want to convert everyone.
Because it’s just that easy.
But at the same time, Patrick’s desperate crush on his new straight best friend isn’t played as exploitative. There’s more there than just him being a cocktease, really; Ivan clearly cares very deeply for Patrick, and their friendship means a lot to him. He cares, and this is a new experience for Patrick; he isn’t used to anyone genuinely caring for him. He’s a disappointment to his father, he loves his sisters but those relationships are very tense, and he really just wants to be loved. So the fact that he has found someone who genuinely loves him is confusing; he loves being loved, but he is also strongly attracted to Ivan, in love with him (at one point Ivan teases him, “you’ve fallen for me”) and isn’t sure how to react or behave or what. Ivan is attracted also to Patrick’s sister Ari–and the heartbreak when Patrick sees them together is completely believable; and it’s all done in his incredibly expressive face. After seeing Ivan and Ari having sex on a boat on the lake…heartbroken Patrick goes back to the dock and sits there, hating himself and hating his life. While he’s sitting there, Ivan’s father Cruz comes out there–they’ve already had a couple of run ins already, and Patrick is on to the fact that Cruz isn’t as straight as he acts–and as Cruz comforts Patrick–they begin to kiss!
Did. Not. See. That. Coming.
At the time, I was rather impressed with the writing, frankly. What better set-up for drama than having Patrick, in love with Ivan, wind up in a relationship with Ivan’s dad? (Yes, aware of the creepiness of an adult man sleeping with a high school student; yet I still thought it make an interesting story.) But the writers are even more clever than that.
Patrick winds up comforting Ivan after his brief little fling on the water with Ari–who no longer wants to even speak to him–and the two boys go back to the Carvalho household. Cruz isn’t happy with this–he has his own developing feelings for Patrick, so he acts homophobic, but privately he invites Patrick to join him later after Ivan falls asleep. Later, when Patrick cleans up before bed and walks into Ivan’s room, he sees Ivan watching porn and they come oh-so-close again to something physical happening…but Ivan pulls aways again. Frustrated and hurt AGAIN, Patrick goes to the guest room. While watching porn on his phone and masturbating, he gets a text from Cruz asking is Ivan asleep yet? Hating himself but hurt AND horny, Patrick gets up to go join Cruz–but when he walks out of the guest room Ivan is there in the hallway.
IVAN: I can’t sleep.
PATRICK: Count sheep.
IVAN: No, no, I want you to come back to my room with me.
PATRICK: You need to stop. I am going to get really angry with you.
IVAN: I can’t stop thinking that…what if…because of prejudice or fear or something…what if I am missing out on something amazing…with someone amazing…who makes me feel amazing.
Ivan then tries to kiss Patrick, but awkwardly. Patrick pushes him away, and Ivan apologizes. “I’m sorry, I’m just really nervous but I want this.”
The look on Patrick’s face literally made me tear up as he said, “No, let me.” And then they kiss. When Patrick pulls away he says, “Are you okay?”
Ivan smiles and just nods, and the two boys go back to Ivan’s room.
What followed was the most amazing slightly longer than five minutes gay sex scene I’ve ever seen outside of gay porn. But it wasn’t raunchy (it’s definitely not gay porn); it was sensual and beautiful and erotic; an expression of love between two young men who’ve never been really in love before. It wasn’t all candlelight and roses; it was Ivan’s first time (at one point, he’s doing oral on Patrick for the first time, and Patrick stops him–“watch the teeth!” I defy anyone to find a gay man who has never said that or had that said to him once in his life. ) and while i know rimming scenes have become more commonplace on cable shows, I’ve never seen two males do it as realistically as it was done here. Patrick allows Ivan to top him, and even that was realistic, honest, authentic. The entire thing was beautifully shot and scored (EDIT: the song playing in the background is Brian Eno’s “By the River,” which is beautiful and perfect for this scene), and the acting was fucking fantastic (the pun was deliberate). I literally got tears in my eyes.
There were three more episodes in the season after this–with ups and downs and more pain and heartache for the two–but it all comes together in the incredible season finale, which again left me in tears.
This entire season could have simply focused on Patrick and Ivan’s story, and I would have been happy. But the other storylines of the season–which didn’t seem all that great in the first half–coalesced in the second half of the season, with twists and surprises and suspense; this show is fantastic at surprise twists that make you gasp.
But this story…wow. How much of a difference would it have made in my life to have seen something like this play out on a television series when I was a teenager? Even in my early twenties? Both young actors are fantastic. The acting is stellar, and I have to admit it’s one of the few times I’ve seen a gay storyline play out like this where I was absolutely 100% convinced they were in love with each other, was rooting for them, wanted them to end up together against all the odds.
Manu Rios and André Lamoglia steal the fifth season right out from under the rest of the cast–which is no small feat, as Elité’s biggest strength has always been its incredibly talented cast.
I loved this show already, but I love it all the more now. I have no idea what they are going to do with Ivan and Patrick for the next season; but whatever it is, I am here for it…and so are the rest of the fans of the show around the world. (Yes, I did a deep dive the other day on-line; Patrick and Ivan and their story are the breakout stars of season 5…as they should be.)
Tuesday morning and I clearly should never go into the office the day after I travel. Lord, was I tired yesterday! But I was good Sunday night when I got home and unloaded the suitcase directly into the washing machine and even remembered to move them to the dryer. I stopped on my way home from work yesterday to get the mail and to make some groceries, and then had another load of laundry to do, and dishes to wash and put away…ah, the mundane that comes after the glamour. But there could be worse things. I was a little too tired to focus on finishing Catriona McPherson’s marvelous A Gingerbread House, which I really want to get to the end of because I am dying to know how it all turns out; but that will have to wait, I suppose. I think I am going to tackle Marco Carocari’s Blackout next; I should have already gotten to it, really. (Bad Greg, bad Greg!)
It’s very exciting that we have so many up-and-coming queer writers in the mystery genre, I have to say.
I slept really well last night; this morning I don’t feel tired at all (and yes, I woke up before the alarm went off this morning). I feel like I am actually settling back in to my life and rest and reality; we’ll see how it goes the rest of the day, won’t we?
We watched the first three episodes of the latest season of Elite on Netflix, and I think it is safe to say that it is clearly one of the gayest shows ever to air; and this season more so than any of the prior ones (or maybe it has been all along, and it just caught me off guard last night?). The show is centering gay Patrick more this season than last, and he’s falling for an absolutely beautiful young straight boy (I think we’ve all been there at least once in our lives) and their “friendship” is kind of nice to see; it’s one of the few times I’ve seen this dynamic played out on television. It could easily go the wrong way, so I am curious to see how this continues to play out. But as always, everyone on the show is gorgeous, the drama is way over the top, and we don’t know who this season’s murder victim is yet. There are some new characters (a wealthy Paris Hilton type who calls herself the “queen of Ibiza” and deejays; the handsome son of a soccer player I’ve already mentioned) and of course, no one is left from the original core cast except the characters of Samuel and Omar–and their friendship is already on the ropes. Sigh. I love this show so much.
I’m also feeling more hydrated than I have since I left for Alburquerque Thursday, and yes, that’s entirely on me; it never even crossed my mind that the higher altitude (five thousand feet!) and drier climate would have an effect on me. It did. I had a glass of wine Thursday afternoon when I ran into a friend in the bar and literally got tipsy from it, and my God, were my lips constantly getting dry and chapping? I also can’t remember the last time my mouth was so consistently dry, and drinking water didn’t help at all; maybe some blessed relief for a moment or two before my mouth went completely dry again. I guess desert climates are something you get used to when you live in one, but ugh, my skin was also so dry and of course, the dryness also triggered my psoriasis again (which has cleared up since I arrived back into the dampness of New Orleans.
So, overall, I feel much better this morning than I have in a few days; rested, rehydrated, and relaxed. Which is nice, since yesterday all I did was spin my wheels and keep everything level, rather than moving in a forward direction to get everything taken care of that is on my to-do list (hello, short story that needs writing!). I did make a stop on the way home to make a bit of groceries, but a more in-depth trip will be necessary once the weekend rolls around. Heavy heaving sigh. But…I should probably do an in-depth reorganization of the kitchen cabinets (yes, I have a deadline looming, can you tell?) but there’s undoubtedly some expired things in there that could be cleaned out, and yes, the other cabinets could stand a good reorganization as well. Maybe I should move the pots and pans from over the stove to over the sink? Decisions, decisions.
But tomorrow I get to work from home and it’s not a full eight hour day, either. I’m thinking about watching some movies while I make condom packs and break down some biohazard stuff (expired tests; they need to go into biohazard but aren’t dangerous to handle without gloves), and of course, there’s always data to enter as well. Huzzah! We now have to come into the office four days a week, so I guess this week that will be Friday since I am working at home tomorrow. I can’t decide which day would be best for me to come in next week–it will alternate between either Fridays or Mondays until we go back to five days in the office again–and as tempting as it is to stay home again on Monday, on the other hand I’ve never really gotten used to Tuesdays being my Mondays. So….we’ll see.
And on that note, tis time to head back into the spice mines. Have a lovely Tuesday, Constant Reader!
Monday morning and back to reality. The bipolarity of my existence is just one of those things that, when I think about it, always kind of makes me laugh. But the one lovely thing about this bipolarity is that it keeps me humble, methinks. It’s hard to become an egomaniacal author when you spend your Monday thru Friday in a lower-level position in a sexual health clinic.
I am very tired this morning and could have easily stayed in bed for the rest of the morning–but at least I slept well last night. (My last night’s sleep in Albuquerque was the best night of the three I was there as well.) The trip home was relatively painless as well; every flight on time (well, there was a slight delay of about forty-five minutes in Albuquerque, but all that did was shorten the layover in Austin) and there was no irritations or annoyances on either of the flights. Delightfully, Meg Gardiner landed in Austin on her way home from some event in Florida while I was there, so I got to see her! That was pretty cool, frankly. I also started reading Catriona McPherson’s A Gingerbread House, which is creepy and weird and I have literally no idea where this book is going or how it is going to end. I hope to finish reading it tonight after I get home from work–and I may even go to bed early tonight to try to make up for all the rest I lost. I hate not being able to sleep. My work-at-home day this week will be Wednesday, so I’ll have to get up early tomorrow again, too. We’re back to four days in the office every week, so I’ll have to go in on Friday as well–but that’s cool.
I was a little overloaded this weekend; I’m not used to being around so many people anymore, and I am also not used to talking to so many different people in such a short period of time, either–but it was absolutely delightful. I can’t name everyone I saw and had fun with over the course of the weekend–I’d inevitably forget someone–and I also made a lot of new friends, too, which was awesome. There were a lot of highlights, and not really any lowlights. There was a bizarre thing that happened on Friday night–very very bizarre–but I don’t think I want to talk about it or tell the story, because it’s really embarrassing for someone I really don’t know and I’m really not into the “name and shame” thing when someone was, well, rather intoxicated, and therefore not in their right mind. But while it was weird and strange, I could at least see the humor in it–it was kind of funny–even if weird as fuck.
But I am feeling a bit invigorated and stimulated mentally, if physically exhausted, and I am hoping to carry this momentum into getting this short story finished this week. I read several great books on the trip that I’ll need to blog about, as well as a couple of others I won’t be blogging about as I didn’t enjoy them as much as the ones I loved–but it was delightful to get the chance to read a lot; one of the best things about air travel is the forced reading time involved.
But my own bed was lovely last night–and Scooter clearly missed me, as he wouldn’t let me out of his sight once I got home and kept demanding, as I loaded clothes in the washing machine and unpacked my bags, that I go sit in my easy chair to give him the lap to sleep in he’s been missing for four days–and hopefully, I will sleep well again tonight and be even more invigorated as I try to get adjusted back to the day to day.
Have a lovely Monday, Constant Reader, and I will check in with you again tomorrow morning.
Saturday morning at Left Coast in Albuquerque and I am very tired. I didn’t sleep all that well again last night, and I am exhausted. I am having the best time. It’s absolutely been delightful seeing people again and meeting new people, and just laughing and having a great time. My panel yesterday was quite marvelous; all the other panelists had a lot of good things to say about creating characters, so it was educational for me as well–I also love listening to writers talk. I wish I hadn’t overdone everything yesterday! But I think maybe if I just rest and relax for most of the day in my bed, I’ll be able to face the banquet tonight. (After which I think I will repair to my room to get ready to leave tomorrow.) But what a lovely day it was. I had a marvelous dinner with excellent conversation last night with some wonderfully smart and witty people. I ended up staying up way too late talking to people in the lobby (the bar closed at ten, which is wild for a mystery convention), which is totally on me; I never want a good time to end. But..I don’t think I am back to my normal social interaction capabilities yet. And I did a panel yesterday, with all the attendant anxieties and stresses that come with that, so I suppose it’s not so surprising that I am so tired and worn out today.
But what a lovely evening it was! I haven’t laughed so much and so hard in such a long time, and it does feel absolutely marvelous. I just have to take it easier on myself and possibly ease back into these things and reserve my energy as well as recharged more regularly.
Well, it’s now Sunday morning and yes, I did wind up spending most of the day in my room; only venturing out to grab some snacks before coming back upstairs. I did make it to the Lefty Banquet last night–I had to get up and speak, which of course brought on all the usual anxieties and terrors and stage fright–but the banquet was a lovely time. Congratulations to the winners (Raquel Reyes for Best Humorous; Naomi Hirahara for Best Historical; Wanda Morris for Best Debut; and of course, William Kent Krueger for Best Novel), of course! There were some really moving speeches given, and of course, it was just amazing being around other mystery writers in a conference environment. But I was so damned tired all day yesterday, even going downstairs to get snacks was an ordeal. I spent most of the day in my bed, too tired to do much of anything besides whine and read (I read Vladimir by Julia May Jonas; it was very well written) and just rested, in general. After the banquet I socialized a bit in the lobby (the hotel has a very strange set up) and talked to some more people, then finally making a farewell lap around before coming upstairs and gratefully, happily, falling asleep.
And it was a good sleep at last; of course, the night before I am scheduled to fly home is the only night I got good sleep. But I also have to go in to work tomorrow, which means getting up at six; so the traveling home will wear me out again, and I’ll get home probably in time to just put the dirty clothes in the washer and get it going before having to go to bed again. Fingers crossed for another good night’s sleep. (This week my work-at-home day will be Wednesday, so I have to get up super early for the next two days only) Huzzah? And of course, once I am home I will have to start really getting dug into the things I am now horribly behind on–what else is new? I have to get my story finished by the end of the month, and I want to get some other writing done this month as well before I head up to New York for the Edgar awards (and yes, I am worrying already about the sleeping situation at the hotel in New York).
And I need to go forage for coffee, and I need to buy a book to read for the flight home which means a swing by the book room once I have achieved coffee status. Have a lovely Sunday, Constant Reader!
Actually, I am in Albuquerque for Left Coast Crime. I have never been to either Albuquerque or Left Coast Crime before. As for the former, it’s very very dry and the air is a lot thinner here than it is in New Orleans. The trip wasn’t bad; the flight from Austin (where I changed planes) was delayed an hour and there was horrific turbulence on both the take-off there and the landing here that had me closing my eyes and making my peace with the Universe, but other than that it was relatively unremarkable. Lots of people everywhere, but neither flight was full and I had a bit of crowd anxiety at every airport I was in, but it was all okay. I managed to finish reading Mia Manansala’s marvelous Arsenic and Adobo and got halfway through Wanda M. Morris’ All Her Little Secrets (which is also marvelous) and once I got to the hotel I started running into friends I’ve not seen in years–which was again quite marvelous. I went to dinner with a friend (I hadn’t eaten all day, and then had a glass of wine–which, given the lack of food in my stomach, and the altitude, and being tired, wasn’t probably the brightest move to make), and then ran into even more friends when I made it back to the hotel. The hotel bar closes at nine (much to the disgruntlement of many a mystery writer), but it was probably for the best that I not imbibe any more alcohol. I haven’t really drank anything alcoholic since the pandemic shutdown–if I have, it’s been so few and far between that any tolerance I might have for it is long since gone–and so having a typical mystery convention weekend’s worth of drinking this weekend is probably not the brightest thing to do. Perhaps I am finally growing up?
I didn’t sleep well last night–first night in a hotel, not my own bed, yadda yadda yadda–despite my complete exhaustion last night when I turned out the light and got under the covers; I was too tired to read, even for a little to shut my mind down a bit. Part of it was overload, I think; I am not used to being around groups of people, plus seeing friends and acquaintances I’ve not seen in nearly four years–as well as meeting new people–caused a bit of overload of my circuits last night, which shoved me headfirst into punchy mode. I probably should have come to my room immediately after dinner last night–but I ran into people in the lobby, which is what always happens at these things, and yes, I probably shouldn’t have gone into the lobby at all and headed straight for the elevators. Lesson learned, although I’ll probably do the same damned thing tonight.
So, in a little while I’ll be loading up the car and heading to the airport to catch my flight to Albuquerque for my first-time ever attendance at Left Coast Crime! Woo-hoo! I’m excited as well as a bit trepidatious, as I always am whenever I am going to an event I’ve never been to before. I have my journal and I will have books, so I shan’t ever be bored if none of the cool kids will talk to me or let me hang out with them. I am a bit concerned about sleep and so forth; I never sleep well when I am traveling (for a long time I thought it was due to the absence of Paul and Scooter; since Paul has travelled with me and I still had issues with sleeping, it must be the lack of Scooter that must be causing it; because when Paul isn’t home and it’s just me and Scooter…I don’t have the sleep issue. Then again, making people fall asleep is Scooter’s super power…)
I also saw a lot of people had delayed flights yesterday to Albuquerque, which doesn’t exactly fill me to the brim with confidence, in all honesty. When I flew up to New York in November (and back from Boston), I didn’t have any delays on either flight, which was marvelous (and increasingly rare). I cannot say the same for the previous time I flew, when I went up to Kentucky earlier last year. (What a fricking nightmare that trip was; at least the return went smoothly.) But I am up at my usual hour, and my suitcase is packed already. I just have to pack my backpack and my carry-on, do some things around here, and hit the road for the airport around seven thirty. Yay.
I am already having anxiety about traveling–not COVID related, just the usual: will the flights be on time? Will I miss my connecting flight in Austin? How expensive will a cab from the airport to the hotel in Albuquerque be? Did I pack proper clothing for the trip? Did I forget to pack anything? Will I have to sit next to someone horrible on either flight?
And of course, the long held horror of being late to the airport and missing my flight. I also have to work on Monday when I get back–so the trip home hopefully won’t be delayed and/or late since I have to get up at six Monday morning after getting home. (A co-worker asked me to switch my at-home day with him because he has a doctor’s appointment, and I am always willing to accommodate a co-worker because I I always need someone to cover for me at some point.)
But I am hoping I will make some new friends and there will be others there I can hang out with–worst case scenario, I go to my room and read in bed–and I plan on attending panels to listen to writers talk about writing. I have very good books coming with me on the trip, and I am sure I will buy even more books in the book room because I can never resist more books, you know? I also will probably get some books when I check-in for the conference and get my bag–there’s always books in the bags–and thus reading will never be much of an issue while I am there.
And on that note, I need to get some things done before I get cleaned up and head for the airport. Have a lovely Thursday, Constant Reader, and I will check in with you later.
It’s hard to imagine New Orleans without Chris Owens.
Obviously, New Orleans was here long before she was born, and yes, as with everything, New Orleans will go on. It’s hard to describe Chris Owens to outsiders, really; she was an entertainer, owned her own club on Bourbon Street, and continued performing there at least once a week for decades. I always meant to go see her perform, as I felt it was like paying homage to a local legend and should be done; Paul and some friends did go when I was out of town one week, and I’ve always regretted not ever going. Looks like that’s a regret that I will carry with me to my own grave.
Tomorrow I leave for Albuquerque early in the morning–well, the flight is at 9:50, but that means I have to be there two hours ahead of time, and have to get there, and all of that, you know. So I’ll probably be getting up around the same time I usually do, at six. I have to check in for the flight this morning and I have to pack tonight when I get home from work. Yay? I am excited to be traveling again, excited to be going to a mystery conference, and a little trepidatious about going…just a little bit. I am always a bit nervous about going to an event where I don’t know a lot of people, or the usual people I gravitate towards hanging out with aren’t going to be there. But I am bringing books with me to keep me entertained, of course; I am hoping to finish Arsenic and Adobo on my flight, with Wanda Morris’ All Her Little Secrets also in my bag “just in case”. I am also taking Robert Jones’ The Prophets and Julia May Jonas’ Vladimir and Rob Osler’s Devil’s Chew Toy. An ambitious reading plan, to be sure, but I would also rather not run out of books–although I am also relatively certain I’ll be flying home from Albuquerque with more books than I flew in with. I mean, I may end up hanging out in the bar with people, or I might not. As I said, while I do know a lot of people who are going to be there…my usual con-gang won’t be. I’ll have to wait to see them all at Bouchercon in Minneapolis this September.
Last night I felt a little done in by the time I got home from work, with laundry to get done and dishes to do. I rolled up my sleeves and went to work on the chores–I hate leaving the house messy when I travel, but I don’t think I will have enough time tonight before I have to go to bed to do any repairs to the mess, alas–and when they were completed, I retired to the easy chair (Scooter had been waiting for my lap, occasionally yowling to display his anger and disappointment that I wasn’t giving in to lap duty the moment he realized I was home and he’d been fed) and watched this week’s John Oliver before moving on to Young Justice (which I am really enjoying; it’s nice seeing the ‘not quite as famous’ DC superheroes in the show). Paul got home just after eight, and I stayed up a little while longer playing Scooter bed before retiring to my own bed for the night. I am also worried about being able to sleep on this trip, but at some point I know I will sleep deeply. And at least I do not have to get up early to fly back home. Huzzah!
I am also hoping to get some inspiration this weekend, which will mean attending panels and listening to writers opine about writing, character, plot, story etc. I generally do come away from these weekends invigorated and inspired (if exhausted), so here’s hoping. I have literally written nothing this entire month other than this blog and shitload of emails, and I do have a story due later this month. (note to self: reread that Stephen King story you were thinking of the other day, to see how he structured it) I also want to spend May writing the first draft of Chlorine, June writing the first draft of Mississippi River Mischief, July finishing off the novellas, and then circling back around to the novel manuscripts again. I am hoping that the lack of writing is burn out from all the work I did over the last seven months–finishing and polishing and working and writing like a madman–but then again, there’s always that fear in the back of my mind that it’s actually gone away for good this time. Do other writers worry about things like that? Maybe. I don’t know. I can only speak for myself, obviously–I never speak for anyone other than myself, so don’t ever assume that I am speaking for any community–but I do know I have this experience inevitably every time I finish writing something, or finish a massive binge-writing marathon.
And on that note, I am heading into the spice mines. Have a lovely day, everyone!
Tuesday morning and only two in-the-office days this week, as I am heading off to Albuquerque for Left Coast Crime on Thursday. I have never been before, and none of my usual convention crew buddies will be there–which means I’ll probably spend a lot of time in my room, reading. It’s my first mystery convention of any size since Bouchercon in St. Petersburg all those years ago–but I did go to Crime Bake back in November up in Boston (Dedham, to be precise). I slept really well last night–two nights in a row, huzzah!–and so am thinking I might be able to face the day after all. I got all my data entered yesterday, ran the errands I needed to run, and got the annual, tedious chore of my pulling together all of my taxes and getting it to the accountant finished. Huzzah!
We started watching Slow Horses on Apple TV as well last night; very well cast, very interesting premise, and are definitely intrigued enough to keep watching. Alas, only two episodes had dropped thus far, so after the second episode we were stuck, and then remembered we’d never finished watching the most recent (third?) season of Servant, so we watched a few of those before retiring for the evening to bed. It’s a weird show–very well acted, very creepy–and Lauren Ambrose is brilliant in the female lead. It’s hard to explain what it’s about–M. Night Shyamalan is producer/director/writer (one of those or maybe all; I am not sure) and that seems to be about par for the course for most of Mr. Shyamalan’s work, doesn’t it? I do recommend it, if for no other reason than seeing how perfectly cast Rupert Grint (aka Ron Weasley) is as Lauren Ambrose’s alcohol swigging, drug snorting/smoking brother.
I’ve also not written anything in a while; hopefully going to Left Coast will get me off my lazy writer’s ass and going on this story I need to get written. I just went over edits on another story–a reprint–and I also proofed another story I have in another anthology yesterday. In other interesting news, I also had a brief conversation with an acquiring editor who is interested in Chlorine–despite it not being written yet, which is always lovely when someone is interested in something just from reading arbitrary and oblique commentary about it that I’ve written here. I also told him about two other future projects I have in mind, which was also nice. I love talking about my projects and ideas. I’ve just been so unmotivated lately–I still think I am a little bit burned out from the rush to get the last manuscript finished, timed as it was with the release of #shedeservedit and the closing of submissions for the Bouchercon anthology, and the turnover/onboarding of the new board for Mystery Writers of America…yeah, it’s really not a surprise that I am a bit on the burned out side. It happens, you know?
Heavy heaving sigh.
And on that note, I am going to head into the spice mines. Have a lovely Tuesday, Constant Reader!