Fearless

And here we are, once again, on a Monday morning with the darkness pressing against my windows, a cappuccino in my hot little hands, and wondering how this week is going to play out. Admittedly, it’s kind of a fool’s game trying to anticipate a week in 2020–I rather miss the sameness of weeks in the before-times, and I am really not certain I’ll know how to behave once things become more like they used to be; if they ever go back to how they used to be. I suspect the before-times are gone forever and once whatever this new reality we are living in moves beyond, there will be a different new reality we are all going to have to adjust to and move on.

Keep moving on.

I’m adjusting quite nicely to using the Air, sitting atop my Baring-Goulds, as my primary desktop computer. There are still some adaptations that are going to need to be made, of course–I still need to get that adapter so I can use the printer and the back-up hard drive–but thus far I am pretty pleased with how it’s all working out. My desk is out of balance now, of course—which means I am going to have to rearrange and reconfigure the desktop itself, moving file holders and books and so forth around a bit more–but honestly, it’s just so nice being able to work without the spinning wheel of death showing up periodically to slow me down and make my head split in half in controlled rage that I may just keep this system for as long as the Air remains functional.

From lemons to lemonade, really. I’m just disappointed in myself that I didn’t figure this all out a while ago–but stubbornly I kept wanting to believe that my desktop was reparable. It still might be, and at some point (depending on extra cash) I may want to take it into the Apple Store and have it looked at before trashing it completely; but in the meantime I. just need an out-of-the-way place to keep it until the extra money shows up and I can take it into the shop in Metairie.

I also can’t believe how well this has worked for lowering my incredibly high stress levels.

The workspace is still going to need some tweaking, frankly–as I mentioned, i need the adapter to gain access to the back-up hard drive, for one, and I may decide to move the books off the desk at some point or maybe make the stacks on either side of the laptop lower, I don’t know; there’s a sense of clutter that sometimes bothers me and sometimes it doesn’t, so there is that as well.

I really do think my mantra needs to remain flexibility, the ability to change and adapt to circumstances rather than rigidly refusing to bend and thus getting damaged. I remember when I was hired by Continental Airlines and started the five week training; the first thing our instructor told us was “the most important thing to remember about the airline industry is the only constant is change” and that’s really pretty true for life in general, really; if you don’t adapt and change you risk becoming a rigid dinosaur and extinction, really. And while there is certainly some comfort to be derived from routine and sameness, there’s also stagnation.

So, this week I need to rewrite an essay, revise a short story, and make some progress on the revision of Bury Me in Shadows. I also have a shit ton of volunteer work to get caught up on, I owe everyone and their grandmother emails, and for the first time in a long time i feel like I can not only get caught up but can stay on top of everything once I do get caught up (Universe, this should not be seen as an invitation to pile more unexpected things up on me, for the record), and it kind of feels nice, you know?

Let’s see how long it lasts, shall we?

We started watching a new show, an anthology series, called Monsterworld on Hulu last night; the episodes are all based on short stories from Nathan Ballingrud’s collection North American Lake Monsters: Stories. I had literally just had my hands on the book when I was moving things around earlier yesterday–part of the rearrangement of the work space thing; pull a thread and so forth–and so, rather impressed with how well done the show is and how good those first two episodes were, I found my copy of the book again and opened to the first page.

The first two paragraphs were amazing; and it’s short stories, so I think I can add it to the Short Story Project and justify reading a story here and there.

And on that note, tis time to return to the spice mines.

Hit and Miss

Yesterday was…challenging.

Let’s just say my computer problems continue, and also continue to be an incredible time suck–one that I really can’t afford to experience right now. But it is what it is, and I managed to turn yesterday into something that I can look back at from this morning with a cup of coffee in hand without regret. I am very pleased that I didn’t allow the frustrations to ruin the day, nor keep me from accomplishing things.

It’s easy to feel zen about yesterday after a decent night’s sleep and over a good cup of coffee. I do, however, have to confess that I was feeling somewhat homicidal around three yesterday, and I placed many curses on Apple, its programmers, and the company stockholders.

And for the record, I am not lifting those curses. I am not that zen yet.

But I did get things done that needed doing. Just not what I had planned.

We watched more of Little Fires Everywhere, and we continue to enjoy it, although I have come to tire of the “backstory episode,” where we find out the main characters’ back stories. It always feels like a filler episode–and yes, I suppose it was necessary, but I can’t help but feel it wasn’t necessarily needed, and perhaps some flashbacks, sprinkled throughout the previous two episodes, could have broken it up a bit and not lessened any of the impact of the story. These episodes feel kind of like the dreaded info dump, something writers try to avoid at all costs. These things are very difficult to do well in prose, and only the best writers can pull it off–and when they manage, it’s spectacular, which is why people always try. But an hour episode is a lot, particularly when it’s not moving the story forward. It’s a fun show, though, and I am greatly enjoying the acting–it’s also nice to see another show where the focus is entirely on the women, with the men serving primarily as backdrops.

As I’ve said before, the classic old “women’s picture” now finds its audience through television.

It’s cool again this morning, not even seventy degrees outside, with a high forecast of eighty. Usually by mid-May there’s not such a huge range of temperature between night and day; maybe a five or six degree differential. It’s very unseasonal, and very weird, to me. Then again we didn’t get a polar vortex and snow in May, either–perhaps the edges of the vortex, dropping the night time temperature. It also makes it hard to dress for the day; I’m going to have to carry a light jacket with me to get me through the morning but by the afternoon I won’t need it anymore. At least, I suppose, it’s better than having to shovel snow and chip ice off my car windows.

But I feel much better this morning, and today is going to be a very good day, methinks; it really is amazing what a difference a deep, good night’s sleep can make on one’s mood and outlook. With enough rest, I always feel like I can take over the world.

We’ll see how long that feeling lasts, won’t we? Until tomorrow, Constant Reader!

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At This Moment

All right, so I may have solved the problems with the MacBook Air. Will that also translate in solving the desktop problems? We’ll see. The desktop continues to have issues whenever it seems to feel like it should, so those frustrations continue to exist.

Heavy heaving sigh.

I did write yesterday, despite the incredible exhaustion I felt for most of the day. The writing was bad, partly I think because I was so tired, and after awhile I gave up and retired to my easy chair and college football. The games were, for the most part, relatively unexciting and I found myself dozing off far more than you would think I would have–again, the exhaustion from the week of work, the never-ending volunteer project, and the inability to sleep deeply made me exhausted all the way down to my bones. As the Auburn score continued to mount in their game with Mississippi State last night, I finally gave up and watched another episode of Murder in the Bayou. I started watching episode three but as I kept dozing off, I decided to just go to bed. I slept fairly well–I did keep waking up every few hours, which is highly annoying, and then got up this morning to the seemingly endless computer problems. I finished writing a story I need to finish, then contacted Apple support. This time, I wound up talking to a higher-level support person, who walked me (over the course of an hour) through the process of a final fix for the problem–which mainly entailed taking the computer back to factory settings and basically starting like it was a new computer. It works brilliantly now, but I now am back to the original problem I had with the Air when I bought it–it won’t connect to my iCloud. Which is fine, ultimately I don’t need it to, but it’s still fucking annoying. Now I think I’ll just go ahead and pick a day and head out to Metairie with the fucking thing.

So, yeah, I am hardly in the mood right now to be civil to anyone or anything. I’m also doing what I can remember of the process with the desktop–I actually managed to get through the disk utility start-up, and am currently trying to run first aid on the hard drive…but it seems to have locked up. I’m not really sure if that is what’s going on–but it’s been stuck on checking snapshot 1 of 19 for quite some time now…and I think I may have bit off more than I can chew here. In a worst case scenario, I’ll see if it does anything over the course of some time–I’ll go shower and do some cleaning–and if it’s still doing the same thing I’ll restart the fucking thing.

It’s so annoying to have to deal with this shit constantly, you have no idea.

So, I am about to go get cleaned up and do some chores around here before I reread what I wrote of the story; make some notes on how best to clean it up and make it stronger, and call it a day for writing. I do keep hoping that some weekend soon I’ll have a lovely time writing without any computer issues–particularly since we are now coming up on the one year anniversary of the Mojave nightmare mess beginning.

One can dream, at any rate.

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Clair

Well, I managed to get the round table thing finished yesterday afternoon, despite the best efforts of my computer to ensure I got nothing done yesterday.  I really don’t think I was the right fit for this conversation as I am neither a science fiction writer nor a buff; I am, at best, a casual fan of scifi more than anything else, and the questions were really in-depth and more than a little bit over my head. But I gave it my best shot, such as it was, and managed to get it done. I may have come across as a bit pessimistic about the future, but that’s kind of how I’m feeling these days–which makes me also very grateful to be my age and not younger.

I also wrote the first draft of “Moist Money,” which pleased me enormously (not the draft, just that I got it done). I went a few words over the three thousand word limit–but it’s also just a first draft, and it’ll tighten up some in the second draft. It’s a very dark, nasty, noir story that’s more than a little misogynistic (to be fair, my main character hates straight men as much as he hates straight women), but overall I am very pleased with it. It’s going to need some more work, obviously, but again, I am very pleased with getting it done. It seems like it’s been forever since I got a draft of anything finished, you know? And it’s been a while since I worked on Bury Me in Shadows (which I am planning on working on some today), so it’s not like I’ve been a writing machine lately, either.

I also started reading Laura Lippman’s Lady in the Lake, which already is fucking fantastic. She keeps raising the bar for all the rest of us, which is both intoxicating and intimidating. I read the first few chapters, then set it aside for a while. The writing and story-telling is so terrific it needs to be savored, rather than rushed through. One of the many things I admire about Lippman is she never writes the same book twice; each of her stand-alone novels is markedly different from the others. Sunburn was her exploration of noir; Wilde Lake was an homage to To Kill a Mockingbird with a modern twist to it; After I’m Gone was a complicated study of the women left behind when a slightly crooked man disappears; and so on. Her Tess Monaghan series (which I love love love) was also never formulaic, never predictable, and always a terrific, satisfying read. She even took chances with that series that most series writers won’t; Tess got pregnant in The Girl in the Green Raincoat, in order for Lippman to write her take on Rear Window; the most recent Tess novel, Hush Hush, was an exploration of motherhood and bad mothers. (I intend to read some more of Lady in the Lake this morning, after I finish this and write a little bit; I intend to spend the afternoon writing, and maybe even go to the gym at some point, as an early birthday present to myself.)

I had some serious computer issues yesterday, with the programs periodically “not responding” and the occasional screen freeze, which required force-restarting the computer or unplugging it. Eventually, the computer problems seemed to work themselves out somewhat; the computer still isn’t as fast as it used to be, and the programs do lock up from time to time, which is incredibly frustrating, as you can imagine. I guess I’m simply going to have to bite the bullet and get some on-line assistance from Apple techs, which I don’t think I should have to pay for, since the computer worked perfectly fine before the Mojave update.

Ah, well, such is life. I also need to get some Apple techs to deal with the Air on-line, but I did buy the Apple Care for it so it shouldn’t cost anything out of pocket.

Fuckers.

We also tore through the first three episodes of season two of Mindhunter last night on Netflix; it’s been so long (and my memory is basically worthless these days) I’d kind of forgotten what was going on with the show–but it didn’t take long to get back into the swing of the story and the plot. The show is simply exquisite; I think this season is even better than the first, frankly. Jonathon Groff, Anna Torv, and Holt McCallany are perfect in their roles, and they’ve recreated the time period perfectly. I can’t recommend Mindhunter enough; I can’t wait for Paul to get home tonight so we can dive back into it. I’ve said it before, and I will continue saying it; this is perhaps the platinum age of television; there are so many amazing shows it’s impossible to keep up with them all, and the Emmys are far more competitive, and interesting, than the Oscars.

There’s also a third season of Dear White People up on Netflix, as well.

It’s gloomy outside the windows this morning; I suspect this is going to be another rainy August day here in New Orleans, on my last day of being fifty-seven (although technically, it’s the last day of my fifty-eighth year) and I continue my steady crawl to sixty. Tomorrow of course is also the last day of this long weekend, and I do feel like it was necessary and needed. I feel a lot more relaxed and lot less stressed than I did Thursday when I came home from work–and this ‘mental health mini-vacation’ has certainly done the trick.

And on that note, I am heading back into the mines for spice. Have a lovely Monday, everyone.

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All I Want for Christmas Is You

It is December 25th, the morning, and I managed to again sleep until almost nine; which I’ve done every day since this fabulous four day weekend began. Getting used to getting up early again is going to be a bitch; I will find out for certain this Thursday morning, heavy heaving sigh.

We opened our Christmas presents last night; a tradition that began early in my family when my sister and I were too old to believe in Santa anymore and my parents were still young enough to want to sleep late on Christmas day. Paul, as always, has spoiled me terribly; he got me everything I wanted 2 twelve-watt iPhone chargers, a contraption called Yogatoes-more on that later, new LSU house slippers, and some things I didn’t ask for–three sessions with a trainer (one of those gifts that can be taken as back-handed, if you choose to think that way), a package of Turtle candies, caramel M&M’s, some really cool post-it notes, pens, and a can of cashews. I also got my annual Hog Days T-shirt (his hometown is famous for Hog Days, and he gets me one of the plethora of options for a T-shirt every year), and some other knick knacks, shoved into a Christmas stocking. It was quite lovely, actually. He’s so much more thoughtful than I am (surprise!).

We also watched, or rather tried to watch, Call Me By Your Name last night, streaming it from Amazon Prime. We stopped with only half an hour to go; Paul wanted to have a cigarette and I wanted to use the bathroom, and when we reassembled in the living room we weren’t all that interested in continuing. It’s a very pretty movie to look at (ITALY!), and the acting was fine…but it just didn’t connect with either of us. Love Simon didn’t either; and I have some thoughts on that, but I will save that for another time. After shelving Call Me By Your Name, we started watching a really interesting Australian series on Netflix, Wanted, which has a great concept and I am curious to see how it will play out.

I spent most of yesterday cleaning out computer files. This is long overdue, and I’ve talked about doing it extensively, but yesterday afternoon while Paul was at the gym I plopped my ass down in my chair and started getting rid of duplicate files and combining many different files about the same thing into one (who knew I had five completely different folders for my story “This Thing of Darkness” with completely different contents? NO MORE), and while there is still a lot of work to be done, I am quite pleased to have gotten all I got accomplished yesterday done. I also am going to try to take the time to make sure duplications don’t occur again in the future, and make sure things don’t simply get put into folders marked SORT or MISCELLANEOUS in the future.

Hmmm. Sounds like a goal for the new year, doesn’t it?

Today, once I finish this, I am going to start Christmas dinner–time to put the turkey in the slow cooker, etc.–and try to revise early chapters of Bury Me in Satin. I don’t intend to spend the entire day working; it is a holiday, after all, and I’d like to spend some time rereading The Shining as well as making some plans for the rest of the week and the weekend. I also just realized that Georgia and Texas fans will be descending on us for the Sugar Bowl over the course of the weekend.

It also looks like a beautiful day out there.

Okay, yoga toes. 

I realized in early December that Paul and I’s methodology of Christmas shopping was predicated on passive-aggression: I don’t know what I want. This rang home to me as I sat at my computer, ready to order iPhone chargers and LSU slippers and the yoga toes, so I closed the shopping carts and instead sent the links to Paul. But I discovered the yoga toes thanks to Jamie Mason, who posted about them on Facebook along with a link to the website. I have fallen arches/flat/very wide feet, and most of my life I have not taken proper care of them; including many jobs which required me to stand on them for hours on end, day in and day out. In one of those oh you are SO fucking smart aren’t you moments I realized about ten years ago I’d been buying my shoes too small for years; I went up from 10 1/2 to 11’s, which was marvelous and made an enormous difference. My doctor recommended shoe inserts as well, which was also life-changing and guaranteed that I no longer needed to buy new shoes every six weeks or so. I also discovered you can buy shoes wider than normal; so my shoes now fit properly and my feet/ankles/knees/calves/hips no longer start aching as quickly as they used to. But years of shoes, and shoes that were too small and not wide enough, compressed my toes (kind of like how the Chinese used to bind girls’ feet) to the point where I couldn’t splay them without reaching down and doing it with my fingers. The yoga toes device is a geloid thing you put on your toes which forces them apart; you leave it on each foot for ten to fifteen minutes to begin with, working your way up to an hour and you do it every day. And let me tell you, Constant Reader, already, after only doing it once for fifteen minutes, that the yoga toes have already made a difference. My toes and feet feel better, and the pressure on my ankles and calves has somewhat lessened. It also makes walking and balancing easier–because your toes aren’t supposed to be compressed together. 

Highly recommended.

And now back to the spice mines.

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Rock with You

Well, I tried plugging in the old back-up hard drive to Paul’s computer with the old iOS on it, but no, the latest system upgrade made that back-up hard drive unreadable by any Mac, the fuckers. The good news is I discovered that I backed up the back up hard drive in August, so there’s a fairly recent version. Sure, I lost some stuff, but I think I printed out almost everything so I at least have a hard copy to reconstruct the file from, and yes, I now understand that back-ups absolutely positively must be done every week. I also realize that rather than using Mac compatible products I have to only use Mac products, as they always survive iOS upgrades–my secondary one was a Mac product, and it works just fine. So, part of my time over the weekend is going to be spent reorganizing computer files, backing things up, and so on and so forth. Annoying, yes, but at the same time a kind of relatively mindless task that, while fatiguing on some levels, will also free up my mind to be creative, so there is that.

Heavy heaving sigh.

So, do I bother taking it to the Apple Store to recover the data (or try), or do I just re-initialize it, wiping it completely and start using it again (as the back-up back-up?

I guess I could call the Apple Store and talk to someone.

Heavy heaving sigh.

The good thing, I keep telling myself, is that I had backed up most of what was current, or at least currently being worked on, on the Cloud so I could access it on the iPad whilst in Kentucky; pretty much anything and everything else I’ve written since the last time everything was backed up primarily came out of my  handwritten journals and had simply been typed into electronic files, and yes, I know, but I also printed them all out. So I can recreate the files, if necessary. But the bad thing is I don’t really know what precisely is gone. But I think the malaise of the last summer that lasted through the fall was a blessing, because it means not a lot of work was lost.

It’s truly frightening to contemplate how fragile the data that is my work is in actuality.

That’s probably why I tend to pretend that it isn’t, fingers in my ears and singing la la la la la I can’t hear you.

Sigh.

So this weekend–or part of it anyway–will be spent trying to figure out what material was lost and needs to be replaced (thank God for “search this Mac” function), but that’s something I can do while I am cleaning. I only work a half-day today, so I am going to try to get all the cleaning out of the way today so I can focus on writing and editing this weekend. I really really need to get the final read of Royal Street Reveillon out of the way; hopefully I can get some chapters of Bury Me in Satin done, and I also want to read some of the new short stories for the collection one last time to make sure they’re okay. (I am a little concerned/worried about “Don’t Look Down.”)

And now, ’tis off to the spice mines with me.

Happy Friday!

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Crazy Little Thing Called Love

Paul leaves today for a week to visit his mother and family. I don’t mind being alone–well, alone except for an exceptionally needy cat–and so hopefully I will find the time to get things done. I managed almost three thousand words on the book last night, and I have some more work to do on the Scotty and the short story collection. If I focus–and I know I can–there should be no reason whatsoever that I can’t get all of this revising and editing and some writing done over the course of the week he’s going to be gone. I am hoping that my weird issue with the original back-up hard drive can be resolved by simply plugging it in to Paul’s computer this evening and then moving everything on it to the Cloud–and I will definitely need to spend some time cleaning up my iCloud drive. I tend to simply move stuff there and just leave it, so it isn’t very organized. I am really angry at myself for not being as anal this year about backing things up as I’ve been in the past, and while I know I’ve lost some things, I am hopeful that most everything that might be gone (the flash drive is gone forever, I fear) should be recovered from that backup hard drive.

Heavy heaving sigh. But must keep focused, must keep moving forward, must get things done.

I suppose one of the best things about not having published much (if at all) in the last few years is that there’s nothing lost permanently, at any rate. And I’ve printed most of everything out–people mock me for this, but you know what? It’s not as easy to lose a printed copy of something as it is apparently for electronic back-ups to disappear in the blink of an eye.

I was very pleased that I was able to log all those words last night while Paul packed. While it was a bit of a slog, and they aren’t good words by any means, I also realized last night before I went to bed that it’s a first draft and many times a first draft is just me vomiting up story and setting and characters; the real work begins with the second draft as I flesh the characters out and tie up the story and delete diversionary secondary stories that never go anywhere. I had wanted to have the first draft finished by the end of November–which plan turned out to be a complete and utter failure–but I would like to get the first draft finished by the end of December so I can get something else going after the first of the year. I’m hoping to be able to get back to the WIP, maybe get it all finished and tied up in a lovely loop by the end of February, and start getting it sent out to prospective agents in the new year.

Here’s hoping, at any rate.

And on that short note, I am heading back into the spice mines. I am hoping to get some of the next chapter done this morning before I take Paul to the airport on my way to work.

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