Do You Hear What I Hear?

Oh, seriously, sometimes I wonder how I manage to still have a career. I did a list of great New Orleans crime novels–a place to get started, because there are a lot of them–for Crime Reads; you can click here to read it. It wasn’t easy narrowing it down to the few I selected, but I also wanted to be certain that the ones I chose were ones I absolutely, positively loved. (The one exception is Dinner at Antoine’s; I read that one as a teenager when I went through a Frances Parkinson Keyes phase–I the King is my absolute favorite) and of course, I didn’t mention James Lee Burke because really, does anyone really need to mention him when it comes to New Orleans and Louisiana crime novels? He’s the uncrowned king of Louisiana crime fiction, plus not picking him relieved me of the duty to figure out which book to choose. (Although I would have undoubtedly gone with The Tin Roof Blowdown, his post Katrina novel, which made me cry several times.)

After making groceries yesterday morning–yes, it’s always smart to go to the Rouses in the CBD on a Saints home-game day, seriously–I came home and relaxed a bit before digging back into the book. I didn’t get nearly as much done as I would have preferred; yesterday was one of those pulling hen’s teeth days. But the Saints managed to hang on to sweep Atlanta for the season, which is the highlight of their terrible season thus far (but we never lost to the Falcons this season), and then we finished watching Smiley (which is absolutely delightful) and then started Wednesday, which I’d been nervous about starting. I watched the original television version of The Addams Family, and Addams Family Values is one of my top three comedy movies of all time. I am still annoyed that Christina Ricci wasn’t nominated for an Oscar for either film; I’ve been a fan ever since and Wednesday, who didn’t really have much of a role on the original show, became my favorite character. I’d been putting it off, despite the great reviews, because I was worried I’d be disappointed. Constant Reader, I was not. Wednesday is terrific, and Jenna Ortega really nails the part. Catherine Zeta-Jones is fine as Morticia, but it’s hard to replace Anjelica Huston, who was sublime. We wound up bingeing almost the entire first season. Absolutely loving it.

It’s hard to believe this is it, the final countdown to Christmas. It’s this coming weekend, and while we still don’t have a refrigerator–out Christmas gift to ourselves this year–maybe we can get a great deal on one after Christmas. The ones with the freezer on the bottom are apparently all about an inch or two too tall to fit into the cubby where ours goes; it’s the damned unusable cabinets about it that are the problem. I don’t know if the cabinet needs to be torn out or if it can be raised a few inches and remounted on the wall; probably the easiest thing to do is just get the freezer-on-top size that fits and be done with it. It certainly would be the easiest thing to do, really. I just had my heart set on one with the freezer on the bottom–another disappointment I’ll need to learn to live with, apparently.

It’s cold again this morning, still sub-fifty degrees. The new heating system in the Lost Apartment works incredibly well–the only reason I even had the slightest clue that the it was cold outside was how cold the downstairs floor is beneath my socks. It’s supposed to freeze this weekend with a slight potential of snow–SNOW IN NEW ORLEANS (which I really need to write about sometime; the way the city reacts to snow always amuses me in a mean sort of way. Most people down here have no idea how to drive in snow or deal with it in any way, and why would they? It doesn’t snow enough for them to ever get used to driving in it. I don’t think it’s snowed here since before 2010? I don’t remember the last time it snowed here, but I remember the only really big snow we ever had; I just don’t remember what year it was. 2007? 2008? Something like that. But my goal for the holiday weekend is to get everything done that I need to get done on the way home from work on Thursday, so I don’t have to go outside for another four days in the cold. I’ll probably spend a lot of time working feverishly on finishing the book, of course, but will take Christmas day as a holiday from everything.

And on that note I am heading into the spice mines. Y’all have a great Monday, okay? I’ll be back in the dark tomorrow morning.

A Reason to Believe

Work at home Friday, and I actually slept in till seven! A whole extra hour! (Don’t think I didn’t wake up right at six in the morning, though…) It looks like a sunny April first out there–cannot believe it’s actually April already. It’s very strange to wake up on Friday morning and look at a normal weekend for the first time in a long time–one where there’s not a looming deadline hanging over my head, the Festivals are done for a year, and I can actually relax and try to get those odds-and-ends that have been hanging around that I never seem to be able to get around to taken care of–if I am lucky. We need to make a Costco run, and Scooter has to go in for bi-annual “senior kitty” check-up. I need to get my story worked on a bit too this weekend, and maybe I can shoehorn in some other writing as well. I also want to spend some time with that Chris Holm novel, knowing I will most likely be sucked into it and won’t get anything else done over the course of the weekend.

It happens.

Yesterday was a pretty good day. I was in a good mood and had energy most of the day–petering out as the day come to a close, as always–and left the office later than I usually do, resulting in the horror and frustration of being caught in rush hour CBD traffic on the way home. My office really is in probably one of the most inconvenient places in the city for me to get to; the old office on Frenchmen Street was only slightly easier to get to–but it still involved driving through both the CBD and the Quarter. Now that we’re further downtown, you’d think it would be easier–I live near an on-ramp to the highway system, and the office is right off the Claiborne exit on I-10 East; it can take me as little as five minutes to get there in the mornings (if I hit the lights properly, which never happens). But I can’t take the highway on the way home–because I have to use the I-10 interchange with Highway 90 to the West Bank (the twin spans) and the traffic is usually backed up almost all the way to the on-ramp at Claiborne Avenue), which is a nightmare all day every day, but is especially horrible in the later afternoon when everyone is getting off work. So I either take Claiborne Avenue all the way uptown to get the mail and make groceries on my way home, or I just take Claiborne to Orleans, head through Treme to the CBD on Loyola, turn onto Howard Avenue and that leads me to Tivoli Circle and St. Charles and BOOM I am home. Unfortunately, yesterday Loyola had a lane blocked by three streetcars that were just parked at the Poydras intersection (the absolute worst place, traffic wise) and as such, it was after five when I got home. I did some laundry, unpacked my backpack, and sank into my easy chair. Scooter climbed into my lap, cuddled and purred and fell asleep, and that was the end of that for all intents and purposes. I watched this week’s Superman and Lois–it really is a good show–and then switched over to Young Justice, which is incredibly well done; with each new episode I not only marvel at the storylines they’ve devised but the strong character building the writers manage, eventually going to bed around ten.

I am also hoping to return to the gym for the first time in a while. Yes, I will be heading out to Albuquerque next week, but I also can make it to the gym a few times before I do. I need to remember that I enjoy working out and that it feels good when I do. Plus, it’s lighter out later now, so I don’t have to walk there and back in the dark anymore. It’s not that I feel unsafe or anything, but walking around back streets in the neighborhood can sometimes be a bit on the creepy side; the problem of having a vivid imagination is that you can never really turn it off. Which is why I have files and files and files of book and novella and short story ideas…and keep having more every damned day. I had another great idea yesterday, in fact–well, I do like to believe all my ideas are brilliant, let’s be completely honest–which I dutifully made note of in my journal at work and expanded on it a bit for a couple of pages, but even as I closed the journal I thought, well, when precisely are you going to write this book, Gregalicious? Heavy heaving sigh. I do want to get a lot of writing done this year….and I need to stop beating myself up because my writing “muscles” are tired and need to rest for a bit.

It happens.

And on that note, I am heading into the spice mines. Have a lovely Friday, Constant Reader, and I will check in with you again tomorrow.

These Boots Are Made for Walkin’

Up early to head to the airport and fly up to visit my parents. I never did get the damned prescription refill situation resolved (who knew that something as simple as a prescription refill–which simply needs to be called in or sent to a pharmacy–is beyond the capabilities of a nurse practitioner? I think it’s time for me to find a new doctor, frankly), so that will have to wait till I get back from the trip–and trust me, I am going to go all Julia Sugarbaker on that bitch’s ass when I get back; I may not even do it over the phone and might just go to the doctor’s office in person…I have not slept now since Saturday. A co-worked suggested a cannabis tincture, so last night on the way home from work I stopped at a CBD store and bought some. It really really relaxed me, but it didn’t turn my brain off, so while I was incredibly relaxed and comfortable in bed all night, I never really slept.

I am actually beginning to think this is some kind of insane endurance contest at this point.

Anyway since I’ll be gone, I may not be posting here as much. I did get all packed last night, checked in for my flight, and all of that day-before-you-leave stuff was handled, and then I went to bed early (for all the good it did) and now am up swilling coffee; I’ve got From Here to Eternity and a short story collection by James Purdy in my carry-on bag, as well as my iPad and the MacBook Air…but again, don’t know how much I’ll be on-line, if at all, while I am there. I’ve not seen my family in well over a year and a half–I didn’t go home to visit during the 2019 football season, so it was definitely before that–but my memory is so shot I can’t remember when exactly I did go up there. I’m hoping to do some writing and reading and relaxing, but even WITH my helpful prescription I have trouble sleeping while I am there, so…I don’t imagine it’s going to get any easier. (I may have to up the CBD dosage; I’ll try that tonight.)

I did order martini glasses yesterday; they should be here by the time I get back on Monday…so next up is learning how to make dirty vodka martinis. Maybe a martini and some CBD before bed will do the trick. Who knows? It’s certainly worth a try, and I was certainly relaxed the other night after I had two, even if I didn’t sleep that night.

I got the final edits on a short story I wrote for an anthology being done by the Chessies chapter of Sisters in Crime (that’s the chapter I elected to join; I have an insane amount of friends in that chapter–writers and editors I admire deeply and am so thrilled to call friends). I don’t remember the name of the anthology at the moment, nor do I remember the theme, but I finally found a home for the story “The Snow Globe”, and I have to say, after the input from the editors, it really is a story I am proud of, and am proud to have in a Sisters chapter anthology. Naturally, I will be posting more about the story when the anthology is closer to being released, which is next spring.

I hope the thrill of selling a short story is something I never lose.

I have been feeling disconnected from writing again lately–and need to get my shit together and start writing again. I have lots of short stories to finish, I need to get back to Chlorine, and I am going to get edits on other manuscripts at some point soon–so I need to get back into my good writing habits. It’s hard, though, to be creative when your brain isn’t centered or rested and you haven’t been sleeping…although I always can find an excuse not to write, can’t I?

The weather looks pretty nasty out there this morning–I hope my flight isn’t delayed. I don’t have much time at my change of planes destination (Dallas Love)…but I also don’t have any texts from Southwest, so I am assuming all systems are still go. I do worry that if I misconnect in Dallas it could turn into an all-day ordeal trying to get up there.

But I will cross that bridge when I come to it.

So, have a great day, and I’ll check in again when I have the chance or time.

Take This Heart

This week, my office–where I’ve spent most of the last thirteen years–closes and we are moving into a new building. It’s the end of an era, really; I started volunteering at the Community Awareness Network (CAN) in 2003, was hired part-time in 2005, went full-time in 2008, and here we are. It’s the longest I’ve ever worked anywhere–previously, the record was four and a half years with Continental Airlines–and I’ve actually been using the same room as my office since October 10, 2010. (easy to remember as 10/10/10)

This has been in the works for many months, if not years–recent history has a tendency to blur in my mind–but I’ve been in denial about it for most of the time; I haven’t wanted to deal with the realities of the change or what it means to me personally so I’ve just pushed it to the back of my mind with a very Scarlett O’Hara-like I’ll think about it tomorrow. Well, that no longer works. They are coming to box up our computers and IT equipment on Tuesday; the movers are coming Wednesday morning to take everything over to our new building.

I shall miss my old office on Frenchmen Street; the thin walls, the ugly utilitarian carpet, the questionable plumbing. I will miss the parade of people on the street when I get off work after dark; the guys who smoke weed around the corner; the people I can see getting tattooed  through the windows of the tattoo shop on the corner; the occasional hot fireman from the fire station on the island separating Frenchmen from Decatur. Scotty lives only a block away from my office; the last block of Decatur before Esplanade across the street from the Mint. I will miss my parking spot in the lot on Elysian Fields that made going out in the Quarter so easy for so many years. I’ll miss being across the street from Mona’s Cafe, being a few blocks from Cafe Envie, and how simple and easy it was to stop at Rouse’s on the way home from work in the CBD.

I have prepared for the move without acknowledging the emotional component of it. I boxed up all the books in the bookcases in my office and brought them home or donated them. I have removed the pictures from the walls and the framed certifications I’ve earned over the years. I’ve emptied the desk drawers, organized the paperwork, removed the testing supplies back to the lab for packing.

But now, that the week of the actual move is here, I am remembering past times in the office. I am remembering Felicia and Mark and Roberto and James; Josh and DJ and Tanner and Martin and Jake and Ryan and Mark and Ked, Tyson and Jessica and Joshua and Matt, Brandon and Sarah and Lindsay, Luke and Morgan and Jeff and Drew and Augustin and Alex, Tiffany and Lena, Chris and Michael and Jeremy, Robin and Nick and Chivas and Miguel, Larry and George and Kathy, and so many volunteers over the years. There was a lot of laughter and fun in that office, and over the years we helped so many people.

It’s always sad when a chapter closes in your life, but there’s also the thrill of a new chapter beginning; the ability to keep helping people and doing the kind of work I believe in, and to just keep going on. There will be new challenges to face and overcome, but change isn’t always a bad thing; nor is it something to fear. Life would be rather dull if it remained the same, day in and day out; we would not evolve or grow were it not for change.

And on that note, ’tis back to ye olde spice mines.

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