I’d Really Love to See You Tonight

I never used to have trouble with my sinuses, or allergies, or any of that; at least that I recall. But I would think I would remember having these horrible headaches, that reach down into my jaw, or the constant dripping and coughing and the fevers and the eyes burning and all that comes with sinus infections or allergies. I think it was sometime after 2001 that it happened the first time; the weather changed and spring sprung and suddenly I was feverish and coughing and my nose was running and a friend told me it was sinus-related; and that the best way to deal with it was taking stinging nettles. I thought it was weird, but on my way home I stopped at Walgreens and bought a bottle of stinging nettles in capsule form. I took two and within half an hour all of my symptoms were gone.

Like the whole thing had been a figment of my imagination.

The nettles worked so well that I started taking them every day even if I didn’t sense symptoms; along with my multi-vitamins and my workout supplements and other vitamins and fish oil and so forth, I took two capsules of nettles. It worked for years, but as time passed and I grew older, the nettles stopped being effective and I switched to Claritin-D, which is the only thing since the nettles that I’ve found that helps. But you can break Claritin-D down into something approximating crystal meth (I don’t know how it works or how you do it; I’ve never watched Breaking Bad) and so now the government keeps track of how much you can buy; you have to present ID and if its too soon after the last time you bought some…they won’t sell it to you. I’ve never quite been able to figure out how the limit works–I suppose I could research it on-line–but the bottom line of it is I treat my Claritin-D like gold. I won’t even let Paul have one, in case I need one and I’m out and it’s too soon to buy more. I used to try to buy some every time I pick up prescriptions to stockpile it so I will always have it when I need it; I’ve slacked off on that and this recent sinus infection has reminded me of the importance of having stock.

So, much as I would simply like to take a Claritin-D every day during the spring, I can’t because one-a-day is above the government monthly allowance. So, when my sinuses start reacting and we have heavy weather like we did over the weekend, because I am worried I might run out of it sometime when I really need it, I don’t take it preemptively and wind up with yet another sinus infection. So, note to self: when I can, I am going to buy more. And I am going to put a bottle of stinging nettles on the list, too. It can’t hurt to take it every day, supplementing with a Claritin-D as needed.

It’s also insane that anything I can get with a prescription doesn’t work as well. In all seriousness, make it a prescription medication again. Wouldn’t usage being easier to track and people using it to make drugs be easier to stop if there has to be a prescription filed in order for it to be obtained for use?

I don’t know, just spitballing here.

In case you couldn’t tell, Constant Reader, I still feel lousy and I am feeling pretty damned crabby over the whole thing. I had to use two days of sick time  and probably two days of being productive in other ways by being sick. Heavy heaving sigh.

I actually feel worse this morning than I did yesterday; my hope is this will all clear up somehow before tomorrow so I can go back to work and stop using sick time. My sinuses feel okay today, so that’s something; but it’s the rest that needs to clear up. My joints ache, I’m still feverish, and I had to get up in the middle of the night to throw up–yeah, that was lovely. I am going to be eating chicken soup today for lunch; I tend to not eat when I am sick, which makes me even weaker.

Again, lovely.

But I did get to read some more of Steph Cha’s Follow Her Home yesterday between bouts of dozing off and feeling sick; I’d read until I couldn’t focus and then put it aside. I might just curl up in my easy chair today with a blanket and watch movies; Bonnie & Clyde, All the President’s Men, and Deliverance are all available to stream from Netflix, and I’ve been wanting to see them all again. I’ve never seen Bonnie & Clyde in the theatrical cut, only seeing the badly butchered edited for television version, and since reading Mark Harris’ brilliant Pictures at a Revolution: Five Movies and the Birth of New Hollywood I’ve been wanting to see all five films nominated for the Best Picture Oscar for 1967–some again, some for the first time (I’ve never seen In the Heat of the Night, which won). Maybe if I can’t focus on reading…

And on that note, back to the spice mines.

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Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas

I may have to rethink this two-twelve-hour-days-to-start-the-week thing.

Or maybe it’s just this week that’s the problem. I know there’s a four day weekend lurking just over the horizon, and all I really need to do is just get through this week and then I can rest and relax and enjoy the holiday and spend a lot of time thinking oh, it’s a four day weekend I can get things done tomorrow until suddenly it’s Tuesday night and I have to go back to work the next morning.

I also felt like crap all day; that certainly didn’t help. I don’t know if it was low blood sugar, or what, but I just didn’t feel good, and that’s always unpleasant when you’re at work. I soldiered through though. This morning, I feel somewhat better–there’s still an itchy feeling in my throat which I don’t much care for–but at least I feel better rested ths morning than I did yesterday.

I also cleaned the apartment. The Saints game was giving me extreme levels of stress, so rather than sitting there and allowing it to make me crazy, I got up and started cleaning. Dishes, laundry, vacuuming…yes, I managed to get that all done during the Saints victory last night–which was in doubt until the fucking very end. I’m not sure what is up with the Saints exactly lately–whether it is some kind of late-season “we’ve made the play-offs already” malaise…but it’s painful to watch, even as they manage to eke out the win.

I don’t understand why they want us to  have cardiac arrest and hypertension, but there you have it.

I do feel better this morning; more tired than anything else, but I’ve also already taken my morning dosage of DayQuil. The DayQuil didn’t seem to help a whole lot yesterday, but on the other hand, it may have been worse had I not taken it. My nose is raw (again) after having to repeatedly blow/wipe it, and that is also highly annoying.

But…tomorrow I get to sleep later, and run pick up the mail before I come into the office. I am so not an early morning person. I can handle getting up at seven, but these two mornings of rising at six are horrific. I did drink some of that “help you sleep” tea last night, and so I slept deeply and well…but that also could have come from being so worn out and tired. But today and tonight I am hoping to get some chapters of Scotty reread and revised between clients, and maybe take some notes on Bury Me in Satin. I also am thinking about getting back to doing some work on short stories that are in progress; “Never Kiss a Stranger” has literally been languishing for weeks, and there are several others that I’ve started and not gotten very far on. I also want to get back to reading my New Orleans histories, as well.

And on that note, tis back to the spice mines.

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Everything She Wants

I am ill.

It’s been threatening since last Thursday morning, when I woke up with a nasty, periodic cough that hurt at the base of my throat; I hoped it was sinus-related since the weather went through one of its typical New Orleans bipolar moments and went from cold and damp to warm and humid overnight; but this morning I woke up with a croaking voice, a slight headache and a mild fever. I chose to stay home from the office today and nurse it, hoping to head off something even worse. I am going to be drinking hot tea with lemon and honey, and chicken noodle soup. I do not wish to be sick in any way, shape or form. I cannot be sicker. I have too much to do.

The odd thing is I felt good enough yesterday to go to the gym for the first time in weeks, and even felt fantastic the rest of the day. Oh, I still had the periodic cough that hurt, but my body felt terrific. I didn’t even wake up feeling sore this morning. But my throat hurts, and coughing feels like gargling acid. And then there’s the damned fever. Sigh.

Although now I wonder if the energy I used at the gym is what opened the door for the illness to take over? BASTARDS.

All right, I am going to go dose myself and try to feel better. Ugh, I hate being sick. And this is twice in less than three months.

So, here are today’s short story offerings.

First, we have “The Shoeshine Man Regrets” by Laura Lippman, from Hardly Knew Her.

“Bruno Magli?”

“Uh-uh. Bally.”

“How can you be so sure?”

“Some kids get flash cards of farm animals when they’re little. I think my mom showed me pictures of footwear cut from magazines. After all, she couldn’t have her only daughter bringing home someone who wore white patent loafers, even in the official season between Memorial Day and Labor Day. Speaking of which–there’s a full Towson.”

This is a Tess Monaghan story, which opens with Tess and her old friend Whitney bored while waiting for their car from the valet service, so they start playing a game: identifying the shoes of the other people waiting for their cars. A laundry truck has the parking lot blocked so everyone has to wait. The ‘full Towson’ is approached by an elderly man of color, who points out his shoes have a spot of mayonnaise on them and asks if he wants a shine. The ‘full Towson’ is a typical asswipe, an altercation eventually ensues, and the old man is arrested–and confesses to a forty-year-old murder….and this is when Tess gets involved. Very satistfying, and a most excellent denouement.

Next, I pulled out the MWA anthology Ice Cold: Tales of Intrigue from the Cold War, edited by Jeffrey Deaver and Raymond Benson, and read the first story, Deaver’s own “Comrade 35.”

To be summoned to the highest floor of GRU headquarters in Moscow made you immediately question your future.

Several fates might await.

One was that you had been identified as a counter-revolutionary or a lackey of the bourgeoisie imperialists. In which case your next address would likely be a gulag, which were still highly fashionable, even now, in the early 1960s, despite First Secretary and Premier Krushchev’s enthusiastic denunciation of Comrade Stalin.

Another possibility was that you had been identified as a double agent, a mole within the GRU–not proven to be one, mind you, simply suspected of being one. Your fate in that situation was far simpler and quicker than a transcontinental train ride: a bullet in the back of the head, a means of execution the GRU had originated as a preferred means of execution, though the rival KGB had co-opted and taken credit for the technique.

As I read along, the story seemed familiar, and yet at the same time I couldn’t remember much about it. When I finally reached the end, I realized I had read the story before, but it’s a good story and I enjoyed it very much. Deaver is of course a bestselling author; and I’ve read many of his Lincoln Rhymes novels–years behind on him, of course. I actually submitted a story to this anthology, and was rejected. I still haven’t placed that story anywhere, either–but I think I finally know how to fix what’s wrong with it.

And now, to my reclining chair and some soup.

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Love Somebody

I didn’t want to get out of bed this morning again. It was just so warm and comfortable in the bed, so cold and unwelcoming outside of it. But a few nights of good sleep and I am on the road to recovery–barring a relapse, which at this point would be so cruel to have happen I can’t even contemplate it. My mind is actually clear-ish today and not foggy, which is also a really good sign. This means I might actually be able to start getting caught up, and start getting my shit together sooner rather than later.

I don’t even know what to think about this development. I’ve been so sick for so long I can’t remember what it feels like to not be sick and have energy and a clear mind.

Hallelujah.

Tomorrow I do have to get up earlier than I usually do; it’s my usual half-day Friday which means getting to the office earlier. But I am going to stop at the grocery on the way home, make another grocery run on Saturday, and pretty much have no plans to leave the house other than lunch at Commander’s on Sunday and possibly going to see I, Tonya on Sunday evening. Monday will be a lovely day off of staying home and watching football games and resting and reading and relaxing, and then Tuesday I can hit the ground running and really start busting through everything that needs to get done. I’m kind of excited; the problem with being sick and low-energy for so long is that it also leads to depression and unhappiness, and the last thing I need to do right now is get sucked down into a quagmire of misery and depression about my writing career; those dark demons in the corners of my mind are always there and ready to come rushing out at the drop of a hat.

I started ripping the WIP to pieces again yesterday; I have decided that it needs to really be overhauled and rewritten; I was never truly satisfied with it in the first place, to be honest, and some more time away from it has also convinced me that, well, while the book has the potential to be something fantastic, it’s really not there yet. So, while I get some other things I am working in tied up in bows and finished, I am going to start dissecting and rewriting; there’s a whole other subplot that needs to be added to the story, and there needs to be a lot more development of my incredibly passive hero; and the stakes need to be raised higher. And I need to get this done, because I need to get to work on the next WIP to try  to get an agent with, if this one  isn’t going to do the trick. I’ve been messing around with this one now for almost three years, off and on, and this is going to be the last try with it.

I’ve also started restructuring the Scotty book. Oy. Have I ever been off my game this past year!

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

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State of Shock

Good morning, Constant Reader, and everyone who only occasionally stops by, should you happen to stop by this chilly late December morning. It’s very gray outside, and the Lost Apartment is cold, and I have a slight sinus headache, but nothing I can power my way through. I still am not feeling at 100% yet, but am getting there; maybe by this weekend? One can hope.

I feel slightly cotton-headed this morning, and am trying to decide what to read next. I’m definitely doing a month or two of short story reading for the first two months of the new year, which I am kind of excited about. Yesterday I was tired all day, and never made my to-do list; I’ll have to get that done today. Today is also payday, so I’ll have to pay the bills today as well. I didn’t really want to get out of bed this morning, honestly; the bed was warm and comfortable and it was cold in the apartment–and I would gladly go back to bed if i could. Heavy sigh.

I know I have some short stories to work on, and I need to do some other things as well. I hate this cotton-headed feeling! It makes it really hard to focus. One short story, which is do this weekend, is almost finished; it only needs two quick tweaks and another read-through before I turn it in; the other story isn’t necessarily a big priority; I just wanted to get it done and out of the way months before it is actually due because I don’t want to have to want until the last minute to work on it and have to rush, if that makes sense. It sort of does, doesn’t it? (See what I mean about cotton-headed?)

It’s always something, isn’t it?

I am still enjoying Joan Didion’s Miami, and think I’m going to read, for fiction, Lisa Unger’s The Red Hunter next. I always enjoy Lisa’s work, and while I am still carefully doling it out so I won’t run out of Unger books to read, I think it’s safe to go ahead and read another one. I also suppose I should do a year recap here, as well as a goals-setting entry for 2018. Sigh.

Okay, back to the spice mines.

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Legs

Post-Christmas, and it’s gray outside. I have to work today; it’s a late night so I don’t have to go in until later. It’s gray and chilly outside, and the Lost Apartment is a disaster area. I don’t feel quite so ill today; in fact, I feel better today than I have in over a week. Dare I hope that whatever it is I was contaminated with is finally over? I think so. I am not coughing, I don’t feel feverish, and I don’t feel dizzy nor weak; how lovely to get over my illness in time to go back to work! I do have a three day weekend upcoming, but we are having lunch at Commander’s on New Year’s Eve, seeing I Tonya that evening, and of course, the LSU bowl game is that Monday. And the next weekend is Comic-Con, at which I will be exceptionally busy. Heavy heaving sigh.

I also now have to figure out what I need to get done. I’ve been in the fog of illness for so long I don’t remember what’s due and to who anymore.

I slept most of yesterday. I woke up early, put the turkey in the slow cooker, tried to do the dishes and some straightening up, and then Paul and I binge-watched The Night Manager, which was remarkably good. I kept dozing off during it, though, missing almost all of episode 3,  as well as significant chunks of 2 and 4, but I did see all of 5 and 6. I’d never really seen Tom Hiddleston in anything before–not counting Thor–and I see why he is such a big deal. Handsome and talented and extremely charismatic, and those eyes! We then watched an old BBC miniseries with Daniel Craig, Archangel, and I also slept through most of it. Then I went to bed and slept like a stone. I think the sleep was a desperately needed part of the healing process, to be honest; the illness kicked off with an inability to sleep for three consecutive nights, which continued through the illness. So, finally being able to sleep well, and get some rest, was something I greatly appreciated and clearly needed. My mind does seem clear this morning, even if the disaster area that is the apartment is defeating to look at. But I must persist, because cleaning the apartment is long overdue, and it’s tragic how quickly it can get out of control.

I am delving more deeply into Joan Didion’s Miami every night before I go to sleep, and the book is simply fantastic. I’m amazed at how she wrote; the way she effortlessly creates a mood with her word choices, which are clever and insightful and spare at the same time. I’ve also decided to make the month of January “Short Story Month” again, perhaps extending it into February as well, since I have so many marvelous anthologies and single-author collections to choose from. And really, how difficult is it to read a short story every day? Not very.

And so, on that note, it is back to the spice mines with me.

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Infatuation

I don’t remember ever being sick for Christmas before, but it must have happened, right? I mean, it’s hard to believe I’ve made it fifty-six years without ever being sick at this time of year. I am hoping if I spend the day today–and possibly tomorrow–resting and drinking lots of fluids and not exerting myself in any way–that I’ll be well and ready to hit the ground running on Tuesday when I have to return to work. Yay. Not really how I wanted to spend four days off, but the best laid plans and all of that nonsense.

At least, so far today the biggest thing is a complete lack of energy. I get tired very quickly; just clearing out the dishwasher and putting the clean dishes away made me so exhausted i had to sit down for a minute. But at least today I’m not praying for death as a merciful release, so that’s something.

I was so tired yesterday that I kept dozing off while trying to read! At one point I started reading and woke up two hours later, with the book still open in my hands. I started watching a documentary on Dunkirk, and woke up an hour later with the credits running. When Paul got home we finished watching the documentary series about the Papal history, and with Paul periodically talking to me, I managed to stay awake, but when the show ended I went to bed and slept through the night. This morning, I’m not praying for death and I’m not feverish, but my throat still hurts, my chest hurts when I cough, and there’s the no energy thing.

The smart thing here to do is not try to overdo anything, right? So I think I’m going to go sit in the easy chair, try to read, and then maybe do some of the dishes at some point. The Saints are also playing today, so there’s that.

I just hate wasting time, although I suppose it’s not really a waste if you’re trying to get over an illness? But you know what I mean. I have so much to do. Then again, being overwhelmed with an insane amount of work to do always seems to make me be more productive.

Heavy heaving sigh.

Anyway, merry Christmas Eve!

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