All Too Well

Saturday morning, and there’s sunlight streaming through my windows–a lovely change from the majority of mornings this past week. I overslept this morning, something that has been happening with greater frequency over the last few weekends, but I also have been staying up later than normal and having trouble falling asleep when i finally do go to bed; I may have to change my pre-bed routine and go back to reading a bit before tumbling into bed. There was some study I read several years ago that indicated the light from screens made it harder for one’s mind to relax and turn off before bed, making sleep even more elusive than it already is for me.

The last thing I need in this world is to make it harder for myself to fall asleep.

I also realized yesterday afternoon when I finished work that I’ve been depressed for well over a week; going back to the week of my birthday. Depression is rather sneaky that way; I always forgot just how sneaky and malicious it actually is. You don’t have to feel sorry for yourself or have that ‘woe is me’ consciousness; it can manifest in being tired, having little or no energy, no desire to do your work, and thinking okay if I can just make it through this day. I literally felt myself come out of it, physically and emotionally, last evening after I finished my day’s work; the swing back to I can conquer the world was so palpable I actually can tell you what time it happened: 5:27, as I was loading blankets into the washing machine. These swings used to be much more obvious and apparent, and maybe…maybe I need something stronger than what I am taking to control all the chemical imbalances in my head. I don’t know. I worry so much about addiction that I am not even certain I should be taking the medication every day, and I also sometimes think I should take a week to wean myself off of it, to be certain, but then I remember that one of the symptoms of not taking the medication is an inability to sleep and like I need anymore assistance in THAT area.

It also never helps to have hurricane season amp up during the Katrina anniversary week. Sigh.

So, in this week’s film festival:

I watched Midway, the 2019 film about the climactic battle in the Pacific Theatre of World War II, which was the first American victory over the Japanese in the war and a major turning point; military historians consider it one of the most important naval battles in history, along with Salamis, Lepanto, and Trafalgar. I generally don’t watch war movies–I’ve never really cared for them much, and while I was watching Midway I realized why: I despise, and have always despised, toxic masculinity, and war movies are all about that amped up, testosterone driven macho bullshit. The main character of the film was someone who made me extremely uncomfortable with his posturing and, for want of a better term, dick-swinging; it wasn’t until he finally realized his posturing had resulted in the death of one of his airmen that he started to get it, and softened a bit, and became more likable (I also realize that this macho attitude is undeniably necessary for soldiers and the military; these are people who are putting their lives on the line and it really is a matter of kill or be killed; the problem is that it is incredibly difficult to shed that kind of training when you’re not on duty anymore or a civilian again, not to mention the PTSD). It also wasn’t until the end of the film, when the characters were shown as played by the actor with the story of what happened to them in their lives later, and the actor morphed into the real person on screen, that I realized that almost everyone in the movie was based on a real life person, not just the big admirals and so forth; that did make the movie a lot more powerful as I realized that not only was what I had just watched a fairly accurate depiction of the historical battle, but the individual experiences of the actual men who fought it. It’s a gorgeous film with stunning visuals, and the Pacific Theatre of the war never gets enough credit or recognition from us–we tend to remember the war primarily as being against the Nazis and the battle to free Europe from the Germans; bit the Pacific Theatre of the war is just as compelling, and the opening sequence–the horrific bombing and slaughter at Pearl Harbor–was just horrible to watch (one of the most moving experiences of my life was my first visit to the Arizona cemetery and memorial out in Pearl Harbor, where the water is so clear you can see the ship resting on the bottom, and oil bubbles are still escaping from the wreckage).

Yesterday I watched Blade Runner Final Cut  as part of my Cynical 70’s Film Festival (and yes I know it was released in 1982, but I consider it to be one of the last films that count as a Cynical 70’s film), and was most impressed. Rutger Hauer, of course, stole the film completely, and it was also a bit funny to me that the movie supposedly was set in 2019 (what an enormous disappointment 2019 turned out to be, given how Ridley Scott originally saw it forty years ago); visually it’s an amazing film, and I can also see how the visuals and art design of the film has influenced filmmakers ever since–the constant darkness and rain in Los Angeles (I kept thinking it’s rained more in this movie than it has in Los Angeles in the last year) reminded me of the  Alien film franchise and Altered Carbon and any number of other films. It was also interesting to see Sean Young and Daryl Hannah in the roles that first really brought them to audience attention–Sean Young was on the brink of major stardom for a while until she got labeled “troublesome and crazy; makes you wonder if she refused to fuck Harvey, doesn’t it?–and of course, a still young Harrison Ford just owns the screen. The concept behind the movie was interesting as well; it made me want to go back and read the source material (I’ve not really read much of Philip K. Dick, and given how influential his work was…yeah), and I still might. I bought a copy of Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?–great title–a few years back, but I can’t seem to put my hands on it now.

We also watched two documentaries last night: Class Action Park, about the exceptionally dangerous water park in New Jersey and the Showtime documentary about the Go-Go’s,  The Go-Go’s. Both are excellent and I do recommend both; I’ve always wanted to write about an amusement park–I have a short story somewhere set in one based on the old Miracle Strip in Panama City Beach–and still might; I’d hoped to do a Scotty book back before Katrina set in Jazzland, which is now, of course, a derelict ruin. The Go-Go’s, of course, were and remain one of my all-time favorite bands; I still listen to their music today and of course, contributed my story “This Town” (one of my favorites) to Holly West’s anthology Murder-a-Go-Go’s.

So, I am now awake after two cappuccinos (Gosh, why do I have trouble sleeping? A mystery for the ages), and looking ahead, there’s a lot to get done for me this weekend. I am way behind on both emails and the book, and of course I want to start reading Little Fires Everywhere, and the filing! Good lord, the filing. I also need to make notes from All That Heaven Allows, the biography of Rock Hudson I recently read as research for Chlorine, so I can return the book to the library this week; and it wouldn’t hurt to go through Tab Hunter Confidential and at least mark the pages that would be of use to me later.

We also finished watching The Case Against Adnan Syed, and I definitely have some thoughts and opinions about that case and show.

Watching Magic the other day, and a young Jerry Houser’s appearance in a bit role as the cab driver reminded me of another movie from the 1970’s, which I wanted to rewatch to see how it holds up: Summer of ’42, which also has one of the most beautiful scores every recorded (it won an Oscar for Michel Legrand, who composed it). I read the novel by Herman Raucher, and the book and movie are both considered seminal works and examples of the “coming-of-age” novel–and thinking about it now, how exactly would that work out nowadays? The main character was a teenager–15 or 16, I don’t remember which–and he becomes obsessed with a beautiful woman in her early twenties whose husband is off to war; when the husband is killed in her insane grief she sleeps with the young boy, who returns, even more deeply in love with her, the next day to find a goodbye note and her gone. The book and movie are told in retrospect; many years later, as an adult, he returns to Nantucket, still remembering her, and then the story is told in flashback, and then at the end he sadly looks at her old beach house and drives away. This remembrance also reminded me that I had written, as a short story, my own version of the same story–which never really worked–called “The Island”, which I still have here somewhere and could possibly at some point revise and rewrite; the primary problem for me with the story I wrote was the main character was only thirteen–RED FLAG–and just now I figured out how I could revise it and make it work (definitely not with a thirteen year old main character).

I might to actually spring for the $1.99 to rent Summer of ’42 on Prime, and see how, and if, it fits into my Cynical 70’s Film Festival.

And now it is time for the spice mines. Enjoy your Saturday, Constant Reader!

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The Wild Boys

Sunday morning. We finished watching Altered Carbon last night, and thoroughly enjoyed it; hardboiled private eye story with an interesting concept about the future, gorgeously filmed, and well acted. I also only have one episode left of Black Sails, which I am still loving, and definitely am going to hate to see come to an end.

I didn’t write enough yesterday, but I finished revising two short stories, one of which I turned into the anthology that asked for it. Today I need to write, write, write. I also need to go to the gym, and I need to clean the living room. I’d also like to finish the Chanse short story I’m working on, but we’ll see how that develops. I have also fallen way behind on the Short Story Project, but feel confident that I will find the time today to read some more of them. There’s some others that I should edit as well. Paul is going to be gone all afternoon, so I should go to the gym this morning so I’ll have the apartment to myself this afternoon so I can focus on getting these things done. I’m not going to stress out about anything–I refuse to get stressed about things anymore, I get done what I can get done, which is helping dramatically with my moods and my sanity–but that doesn’t change the fact that things need to get done.

Paul might go visit his mom later this spring; I may take the same week off and just have a staycation. I tried this once before, with the good intentions of getting a lot done, and failed; but I do feel now that somehow things are different than they were at any point in the last four or five or six years; I feel as though I am rededicated, able to get things done; this year alone I’ve written five or six short stories from scratch already, five chapters of the Scotty book and four chapters of the revision of the WIP; which is quite  a lot for the eight or nine weeks we’ve had so far this year. I know I used to produce quite a bit back in the day, but it’s been awhile since I’ve written so much and been so productive; I am really enjoying it more than I remember doing so before, so I feel like this year is different somehow; I am enjoying working out again, I am enjoying writing again; and my self-confidence is coming back with a vengeance, which is, of course, absolutely lovely.

And on that note, I should get back to the spice mines. I want to clean the kitchen and revise another short story before I go to the gym for my workout; the windows also need cleaning, but that can wait until I get home from the gym.

Here’s a hunk to get you through your Sunday:

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Rhythm of the Night

Wednesday!

I decided to postpone this morning’s workout until tomorrow, as I was ridiculously tired both last night and this morning. It’s so lovely, though, to be back into a regular routine; because I know that skipping this morning doesn’t mean it’s a loss. I can switch days without worrying or stressing that I am sliding down that slippery slope to not going to the gym again. Huzzah! Definitely making progress.

I checked off another BIG item off the to-do list yesterday; HUZZAH! This morning I have some loose odds and ends to tie up in addition to that, and then I am very excitedly going to get it all together. Yay!

I also reread the short story I wrote Sunday last night, and as opposed to my usual reaction (which is to recoil in horror from something I’ve written) I actually was rather pleased with it. It’s rough, of course, and it needs some things to be added to it, some language needs to be cleaned up, etc, but over all I am rather pleased with it. I have a couple of other short stories in progress that also need to be cleaned up; I am hoping to get all of that finished this week so I can dive headfirst into my March project. While March actually begins tomorrow, I am going to spend the rest of the week tying up odds and ends–but I am actually going to slowly start putting my feet into the water of the March project tomorrow, then hit the ground running once all this other stuff is finished.

Must. Stay. Focused.

If I stay focused, I can get everything done, and done well.

I also submitted a short story to an anthology call; the deadline is this coming Monday, but hey–look at me turning in something early. Madness, right? I don’t know if they’ll use my story or not, but I am pretty pleased with it. It may not be up their alley, but I certainly am not going to be offended if it doesn’t get accepted, you know? (Right? I don’t even recognize myself anymore.) But it feels good. I want to get so much stuff out of the way before this weekend so I can totally immerse myself in the new project.

Altered Carbon continues to enthall, and so does The Black Prince of Florence. I am way behind on the Short Story Project, but am hoping to get my act together on that score soon as well.

And on that note, I should get back to the spice mines.

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Oh, Sheila

Tuesday!

As February winds to a close, and March lingers there on the horizon, I can’t believe that we are nearly three months into 2018 already. I’ve done quite a bit of writing so far this year; so much so, that in fact, I’ve already written more than I did all of last year. How scary is that? The next few months are going to be a bit on the insane side for me, as I have much to write, the Williams Festival/Saints and Sinners is also coming up quickly, and many many deadlines are looming as well. Which is cool, but stressful. I’m getting a lot done, though, and I am making progress on the goals I set for the  year. I’m not as consistent with the gym and working out as I would like, but I am already on pace to have been to the gym more times this year than last already, and that watershed is coming up soon.

We started watching Altered Carbon on Netflix this week. I’ve seen a lot of people trashing the show on social media; so I didn’t have high hopes going into it, but we’re enjoying it so far. Visually it’s stunning; it sort of reminds me of Blade Runner (which I haven’t seen in over thirty years; should probably rewatch that soon). It’s kind of a cross between sci/fi and a hardboiled detective story; which is part of why I find it intriguing. I also like the lead actor, Joel Kinnaman; I enjoyed him in the American version of The Killing, and you can’t go wrong with James Purefoy. And while there is a lot of nudity, for a change it seems pretty equally distributed between males and females, and they actually show full frontal male, which is extremely unusual. The show has also intrigued me enough to go back and read the books on which the show is based; and I am relatively certain the books are most likely better than the show.

I’m a little behind on the Short Story Project, as I try to wind down the Bouchercon anthology, but I did read “Three Little Words” by Nancy Pickard, from the MWA Anthology Manhattan Mayhem.

Priscilla laughed hysterically when her doctor told her she had only a few weeks to live.

When she saw the shocked dismay on his handsome face, she waved away his worry and kept guffawing like a four-year-old who had just heard the funniest knock-knock joke on earth. And, being a preschool teacher, she knew knock-knock jokes and four-year-olds.

Nancy Pickard is one of my favorite crime writers: her stand-alones, The Virgin of Small Plains and The Scent of Rain and Lightning are two of my favorite crime novels of all time (both are sorely in need of a reread). I also loved her Marie Lightfoot series; Marie being a true-crime writer, so her adventures were always interspersed with excerpts from the book she was writing about the case she was looking into in the book; a book within a book, and it was terribly clever. This short story is evidence of why I enjoy Pickard’s work so much. Poor Priscilla is a wealthy young girl who’s estranged from her family; she creates a bucket list when she finds out she had little time left to live: it consists of three little words, tell the truth. And that’s what she does; she goes around telling everyone the truth, whether they want to hear it or not. Then she is murdered, but why? The story is told from the point of view of her doctor, who is also her friend, and as the story moves on, each sentence makes the plot and mystery of who murdered Priscilla and why even more complicated and layered; this story is definitely a classic.

And now, back to the spice mines.

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