Epiphany

Friday, and day two of a Gregalicious long birthday weekend.

The actual birthday yesterday wasn’t too bad. I ran by the office and got my prescriptions, ran to the post office and got the mail, and then stopped at the Tchoupitoulas Rouse’s to make groceries. Of course, when I left the house it was sunny and humid, and by the time I made it to the Rouse’s parking lot it was pouring rain–like always whenever I go make groceries. Heavy sigh. But then I lugged everything in, and by the time I had everything put away I was completely exhausted. I wound up hanging out in my easy chair, getting caught up on Real Housewives of Beverly Hills, and then Paul and I started watching something neither of us really cared for–a comedy series, which seemed to think bigotry with a smidgin of homophobia is still uproariously funny and should be played for laughs. Needless to say, I didn’t find it engaging or particularly funny. It was a high school thing, and after watching Never Have I Ever, Sex Education, and various other teen comedies that didn’t need to stoop to such sophomoric levels to be engaging, funny, and charming–how this other shit got on the air is a mystery to me. We won’t be watching any more of that, believe me. I was pretty tired for some reason last evening, so I retired early and found myself waking up terribly late this morning–much later than I usually get up (oooh, I slept in a WHOLE EXTRA HOUR, alert the media! Then again, given my occasional bouts of insomnia, this was a quite lovely development.)

So, overall it wasn’t a bad day. I am going to have my scroungy day today, where I don’t shower or shave and spend the whole day in dirty yet oddly comfortable sweats that should be going into the laundry but I’m willing to wear one more time first–oh, don’t sneer. We’re all basically slobs at heart, and imagine how disgusting we’d allow ourselves to get if we didn’t have to clean up. Oh, is that just me? Never mind then. Although I am also thinking I should probably shower to just wake up, if not for hygienic purposes. And while it is Friday and day two of Gregalicious Long Birthday Weekend, I fully intend to keep up the Friday tradition of laundering the bed linens. I am going to spend some time being sluggish today–I want to spend some time with Lovecraft Country, and I am weeks behind on The Real Housewives of New York–but emails and so forth have been piling up during my exile from doing anything of consequence yesterday, and so I am going to have to start doing something about that today, little as I want to. The Lost Apartment is also a dreadful mess.

There are two tropical storms out there, with another tropical something forming off the coast of Africa. Laura has already formed, and her track has New Orleans on the outer edge of her Cone of Uncertainty; the other in the Gulf, forming off the coast of the Yucatan, will be named Marco when and if he becomes anything. Currently both are slated to hit the Gulf Coast merely as Category 1’s, but those are no picnic, and I do hope they all miss Puerto Rico (isn’t it odd how no one ever talks about, or reports on, the Puerto Rican recovery?).  Interestingly enough, both storm tracks show that they will hit landfall on the Gulf Coast within hours of each other, and each, as I said, have New Orleans on their outside track. So, Laura could be hitting anywhere from New Orleans to Pensacola at around two in the morning on Wednesday, while Marco could be coming ashore at around the same time anywhere from Corpus Christi to New Orleans. 

Talk about a one-two punch. And if ever there was a base for a Scotty story, simultaneous hurricanes would be it–although I do think Tim Dorsey did this in one of this Florida novels, and if I recall correctly, the eyes converged somewhere over central Florida. As I have, in recent years, come to a greater appreciation of Carl Hiassen (I have a PDF of his next one in my iPad; and I really should read more of his work), I should give Dorsey another go. Back in the day, the genre I’ve come to call “Florida wacky” never appealed to me, but once when I was on a work trip to DC I finished reading all the books I’d brought with me and went to a nearby Barnes and Noble, and Hiassen’s Bad Monkey was on the sale table for $2.99 in hardcover and I thought, oh, why not, and bought it–and couldn’t put it down. It also made me laugh out loud numerous times, and I went on to read several more of his with great appreciation–so perhaps I should give Dorsey another go. Dave Barry, the columnist, also wrote a couple of novels that fit into this category, and I know I read his first and really enjoyed it. 

Florida–at least the panhandle–played a part in my childhood and shaping me as a person; I also lived in Tampa for four years as an adult, and I have spent quite a lot of time in Fort Lauderdale, Orlando, and Miami over the years. I had originally intended to set Timothy in Miami; I eventually went with Long Island because same-sex marriage was legalized there long before it became national, and I didn’t really feel quite as comfortable writing about Miami as I did about Long Island. It also made more sense to set it on Long Island–although I found the perfect house on one of the Miami islands to base the mansion on. I eventually had my main character meet his future spouse in Miami–South Beach, to be exact–but it really made more sense for it to be based in New York City and Long Island and the Hamptons. I’ve written a little bit about Florida in my fiction; “Cold Beer No Flies” was set in the panhandle, and I have innumerable other ideas that would be set either in the panhandle or my fictional version of Tampa (Bay City), but New Orleans is still my center and still where I inevitably set everything I write.

I’ve always wanted to send Scotty on an adventure in the panhandle–Redneck Riviera Rumble–and perhaps I still might. There’s an amorphous idea in my head for such a tale, which would involve Frank’s retirement from professional wrestling and his final show somewhere in the panhandle, sex trafficking, and drug smuggling; if I can ever pull it all together, you can bet I will be writing it.

And on that note, I need to get to work being a slug. Have a lovely Friday, Constant Reader.

 

 

I’ll Be Over You

Saturday morning in the Lost Apartment. I have work to do, errands to run, an apartment to clean, and weights to lift. And rather than getting started on any of it this morning, I am rather sitting in my chair, swilling coffee, and wasting time on the Internet.

Meh, it happens.

Today I am going to spend some time writing, and reading–I want to get further along in Eryk Pruitt’s What We Reckon (#boucherconhomework) and last night I had an absolutely brilliant idea of how to structure that panel. Mwa-ha-ha. The panelists may not think it’s brilliant, but do, and am in charge.

Power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely.

MWA-HA-HA-HA-HA!

This is going to be fun.

Next up in the Florida Happens anthology is a story by Debra Lattanzi Shutika. From her website:

“Hello, I’m Debra Lattanzi Shutika, author of Beyond the Borderlands: Migration and Belonging in the United States and Mexico (2011, University of California Press), an ethnography that explores the lives of Mexican immigrants and their American neighbors in Kennett Square, Pennsylvania and the transformation of their home community in Mexico.  Beyond the Borderlands is the winner of the 2012 Chicago Folklore Prize.

I direct the Field School for Cultural Documentation, a collaborative project with the American Folklife Center at the Library of Congress.  The Field School has completed eight community-based documentation projects, including the occupational culture of Arlington National Cemetery, two years in the Columbia Pike neighborhood in Arlington, VA (2011-12) the Alexandria Waterfront (2014), Arlington County Community Gardens in 2016 & 2017. We have also held two residential field schools in West Virginia. One in Morgan County in 2012 and most recently in the West Virginia Coalfields in 2018.

I also write fiction. My short story “Frozen Iguana” will appear in the 2018 Bouchercon anthology Florida Happens, and “Mirrors” appeared in Richard Peabody’s Abundant Grace: The Seventh Collection of Fiction by D.C. Area Women.  I’m revising a novel, The Other Kate, a mystery about postmodern changelings.

My current academic projects include a book-length ethnography about a documentation project with the National Park Service on the 50th Anniversary of Summers in the Parks.

I teach Folklore, ethnographic writing and ethnographic research methods at George Mason University.”

Her website is here.

debra lattanzi shutika

And here is how “Frozen Iguana” opens:

Thunk

Jimmy turned off the water and stood in the shower, shivering.

Thunk

Thunk, thunk thunk.

He looked up at the ceiling tile expecting a dent from the last—

Thunk

He wrapped a towel around his waist and eased out of the steamy bathroom, the trailer floor creaking with every step.

Jimmy pulled the blinds back from the front door window. The thermometer read 36 degrees, the sixth day of the Florida freeze. The iguanas had started to fall out of the trees like junkies after a hit. Across the way a car door slammed. At midnight, Jimmy watched his neighbor Kate, wearing her scrubs, her auburn hair tied back in a ponytail, hop down from her truck and head for her trailer. For the next hour, he made the pilgrimage to the window to watch the comings and goings of the park. Three and a half Buds later, Jimmy fell asleep for the night on the couch.

There is nothing more annoying that the repetitive sound of frozen iguanas hitting the roof of your trailer, with the possible exception of a man hammering at your neighbor’s door. Jimmy stumbled out of bed and looked outside. It was six in the morning and there was a cop. At Kate’s door.

As the unofficial mayor of Paradise Lake trailer park, Jimmy Dickson knew every resident’s story. Jimmy stayed clear of the junkies and pushers, and he watched over the lost souls who somehow ended up here. Kate was one of his favorites.

He grabbed his hat and stepped outside.  Kate hollered, “Calm down!” Her breath rose in small clouds.

“You Kate Lucci?” The cop towered over Kate.

This is a terrific story, and I love so much that she chose to write a story around the south Florida iguana issue. I have a friend who lives on the Wilton River in Fort Lauderdale, and the iguanas–who live on an island just across from his property–drive him insane. They eat the fruit from his trees, they leave piles of iguana shit everywhere, and I have to say, in the morning when you are relaxing alongside the pool with your morning coffee, it’s a bit of a shock to see something moving out of the corner of your eye and then look over and see an enormous iguana just on the other side of the screen.

And yes, during a cold spell there a few years back there was, as Steve said, an ‘iguana holocaust’–most of them freezing to death. But it wasn’t permanent, and they are back.

The story is set in a trailer park in Broward County during a freeze–with frozen iguanas falling out of the trees fairly regularly. Kate works in a rehab facility, and one of her neighbors is in recovery for opioid addiction–and has overdosed. The cops dismiss it as just another relapsed junkie overdosing, but Kate doesn’t believe the story. The victim’s addiction had cost her custody of her kids, who were being brought over for a visit the next day–which means the relapse, at least to Kate, doesn’t make sense. Dismissed by the cops, with the assistance of another resident in the park Kate keeps looking into the strange relapse, continuing to find other indications that it may have been murder, and finally solves the case herself. What a great lot of fun!

And now I suppose I should get back to work.