Don’t Tell Me

It’s the Monday after Mother’s Day and I managed to make it through somehow. I woke up this morning with a strong urge to remain comfortably in bed, but here I am swilling coffee and planning on how to make it through this week of work and everything else I have to get done. But yesterday wasn’t nearly as bad as I feared it might have been. I eventually became emotionally immune to Mother’s Day sales and the FTD reminders; my situation certainly didn’t require me to complain about others still celebrating with their mothers–why harsh everyone’s buzz? I can’t imagine anything more narcissistic than insisting everyone else calm down with the Mother’s Day stuff because it was hard for me. Next year I’ll know what to expect and will be one more year removed from the loss; time has a way of dulling the aches and pains and slings and arrows life hurls at us–all things become easier with the passage of time. A friend was in town yesterday and I joined him for a rather late lunch. I had a beer (!!!); a local IPA that was actually quite good–I’ve always only drank trash beer, and never really got into beer as an experience rather than as a method of alcohol delivery. (I also know nothing about wine.) That was a nice break from working, and last night we started watching The Consultant, with Christoph Waitz, on Amazon Prime. I don’t think we’ll continue. It’s well done but it’s very strange; it’s based on a Bentley Little novel, so it’s probably more on the horror end of the spectrum, but it didn’t really engage with us very much? I suspect we’ll be looking for something else to watch this evening after I finish working.

And because I never made a grocery run over the weekend I shall have to do it tonight after I get off work, which is hardly an appealing thought. I also have a ZOOM call tonight–I should be able to get home in time for it, I think–or maybe I don’t; it’s not on my calendar which is unusual, but there’s no meeting at all on my schedule for the month of May, which is very odd. I’ll have to dig through my emails to see, but I’m pretty certain it was tonight. I’m actually rather amazed that I remember that much, without it being on my calendar. I know i had some things I needed to do before that call, too–so that’s going on today’s list of things to do. MUST BE DONE.

But I feel like there’s a lot less on my shoulders this morning, which is also kind of weird. Was Mother’s Day that subconsciously brutal on my psyche that I was able to keep it out of the forefront of my mind while still carrying the load and only being slightly aware? My brain’s ability to protect itself (and me) from things I don’t want to think about or deal with at the moment is pretty uncanny; but I’m not sure if that’s entirely healthy. There’s a lot stored away in the dusty back corners of my mind that I’ve never processed or dealt with–watching It‘s a Sin on HBO MAX back whenever it was that first aired, for example, brought a lot of memories back that I’d not even considered, let alone dealt with and processed, since it all actually happened to me in my life. I said recently to a very young gay man lately (early twenties, so born in either the late 90’s/early aughts) “back then we just all figured we were all going to die before anything would be done about it” and he recoiled slightly from me, saying “But that’s terrible” , to which I shrugged and said, “that was our reality.” I’d never really thought about it much because it was the reality; and yes, it was indeed horrible. But I’ve blocked that all out so much for so long that it does sometimes seem like it was distant history, like it all happened to someone else, or that it was a book I wrote long, long ago and barely remember. The loss of memory from that time is no different, really, from the loss of memory of the times and years after Katrina or how all the pandemic/COVID years kind of jumble in my mind and I can’t remember timelines or when things happened or how they happened. Scrambled brains, I suppose, is the easiest way to say it; trauma and PTSD scramble our brains.

And even as I reread that last sentence, I am, as always, inwardly rolling my eyes at myself, So dramatic, my inner critic is sneering. You’re not the first person to lose a parent. It is funny, when you catch yourself being nasty to yourself and then start unpacking where that negativity and self-loathing came from. Childhood, of course, which is where so many of the scars were inflicted and lessons learned that have almost proven impossible to unlearn as an adult. There are no guidebooks for life; only experience and learning hard lessons. As someone who prefers a bit of structure to life, not knowing how I am supposed to handle things like grief and so forth inevitably results in me being harder on myself than I should be. How long are you supposed to grieve? How long before it stops hurting, before I can think about Mom without getting deeply emotional? Am I supposed to keep this to myself, or am I supposed to share it? Do people get tired of hearing about it and grow bored with me talking about it? I know I get bored with myself–and then wonder, is that self-abuse? Should I be kinder to myself? I never have been, really; so that would be a novelty in the first place. When does it cross the line from normal emotional response to wallowing in it?

I really hate that my parents lost my user manual so many years ago…

And on that note, I am heading into the spice mines. It’s a Monday, so take it as easy on yourself as you can–we can make it through yet another week of challenges and excitement, can’t we?

Little Star

Well, here we are on bleary-eyed Thursday morning and I am swilling coffee and hoping to wake up more. I slept very well, but this is the usual late-week battery running down kind of tired, the way I always feel by the end of the week. I was tired again when I got home from work yesterday, so didn’t get very much accomplished last evening. I have a sink full of dirty dishes I’ve been ignoring, a dishwasher full that needs to be put away, a load of laundry in the dryer and another full basket of clothes to launder as well. Heavy heaving sigh. I really just want to curl up into a ball and go back to sleep and pretend like the rest of the world doesn’t exist, but it is not to be.

I did, in my tired stupor yesterday, did manage to watch this week’s Ted Lasso again and it was just as lovely and charming and delightful the second time around, and I did catch some things I’d missed the first time (my favorite was when Jan Maas said “statistically there should be more than one gay person on the team” and everyone looked at Jamie, who just smiles and says “I’m flattered”). This show is really such a delight; I am always in a much better mood after I watch it. The character development and story arcs have just been phenomenal, and the attention to every little detail is exceptional–the developing friendship between Jamie and Sam, for example; not a major story in the scheme of things, something extra and small on the side, yet also incredible for showing the character development of them both from the first and second seasons when Sam couldn’t stand Jamie and didn’t want him back on the team. We’ve also started watching an adorably funny show on HBO MAX called Somebody Somewhere, which is set in Manhattan, Kansas and focuses on the most endearing odd characters. I wasn’t sure if I was going to like it at first–shows about oddballs are always iffy for me; I wanted to be sure we’re laughing with the characters rather than at them; otherwise it’s too mean-spirited for me, and this show is definitely not that. It’s kind of hard to describe; maybe as I watch more I’ll get it sorted in my head.

I’m hoping that I’ll get my act together this week–the jury is still out on that and it’s already Thursday–but now I am at that “I have so much to do and so little time to do it in so I will never get it done” paralysis that usually comes right before my brain snaps to attention and starts working at an insanely impossible speed. I don’t know why I always do this to myself, but it happens far too regularly for my liking and I really wish I could change my ways to not be like this anymore.

You’re sixty-two, Greg, or rather, almost sixty two (I always add a year to my age after New Year’s), what are the chances you’ll be able to change your methodology at this time in your life? Heavy heaving sigh. But one can always dream, can’t one? I am going to head straight home after work today because I have a ZOOM thing tonight with some friends and I need to clean the kitchen–or at least hide the dishes in the full sink…no wait, I remember! I learned how to blur the background so I don’t have to clean the kitchen! (But I do still need to clean the kitchen if I’m not too tired…)

Ah, well, such is life. And now into the spice mines….have a lovely Friday Eve, Constant Reader.

Erotica

Work at home Friday, woo-hoo! The excitement really never stops, does it? Ah, well.

Yesterday was a pleasant enough day, despite my complete exhaustion by the time the afternoon rolled around. I was fine in the morning, focused and getting things done, but once I went back to seeing clients after my lunch break, I was physically and mentally fatigued. I also had to pick up the mail on my way home–the traffic wasn’t nearly as terrible as it had been the day before; I do NOT know what that was all about, nor do I want to know, frankly. I came home, did some things, and then collapsed into my easy chair. We started watching that new HBO MAX show about the Watergate burglars starring Woody Harrelson and Justin Theroux (and if you would have told me in 1989 that Woody from Cheers would become one of our best character actors, I wouldn’t have stopped laughing until 1992), but while it’s exceptionally well done, E. Howard Hunt and G. Gordon Liddy aren’t the kind of people I want to know better or see anything about as the lead characters of anything. It was eerie how well they reproduced suburban life in that period (also having Cersei Lannister playing Mrs. Hunt was an interesting twist), but again…I couldn’t get a sense of whether this was parody or striving for accuracy (which shows how insane Hunt and Liddy both are/were), so after one episode we tapped out and switched over to The Diplomat, which is amazing. I fell asleep during the second episode (I’ll rewatch it to get caught up at some point) because I was, simply stated, completely exhausted from a week of working and not sleeping well and emotional upset, I suppose. Last night I slept like a rock–completely dead to the world all night, and even slept for nearly ten hours before rising this morning rested and refreshed. It is quite lovely, frankly, and I feel terrific for the first time all week. Of course tomorrow I have to drive to Alabama (and back again on Sunday) but I have already selected Carol Goodman’s The Ghost Orchid to listen to on the ride to and fro, and I am kind of excited at the chance to listen to yet another brilliant book by one of my current favorite authors.

I’ve not had a chance to pick up Lori Roy’s brilliant Let Me Die in His Footsteps, which I was reading on the way home from Malice last Sunday and loving every word. Despite the fact she has two Edgars and another nomination from her first three books (which is pretty amazing on every level), I think her more recent work is even better than her earlier work. This book is also pretty fantastic, and I can see why it did win the Best Novel Edgar. Roy has a very hypnotic writing style, and is a master of voice; this story is told by two very different and very distinct voices with an alternating dual time-line, which is also something I love, love, love. The pity is that when I finally do finish this book, there will only be one Lori Roy novel left that I’ve not read, When She Comes Home, and I’ll have to hold onto that one until she publishes another book unless I want to (sigh) finish her entire published canon thus far.

I dread the day when I run out of Carol Goodman novels to read, for example.

It’s been a tough week, and I think that its my subconscious dealing with the issues of what this weekend means, really. Over the course of my life I’ve become really good at compartmentalizing my life into different rooms in my brain and shutting and locking the door on things, thinking I can’t deal with that now, I’ll deal with it later but some things are too big to be locked away, and they seep out through the cracks around the door in its frame and drag like a heavy stone at my being and emotions. I hit a major wall when I got home from work on Wednesday; I just got overwhelmed out of nowhere with grief and collapsed into my easy chair for some purring cat therapy. I also find that my moods can easily be shifted with essentially a snap of the fingers this week. I am unused to this kind of grief, and periodically wonder–with a sense of dread and horror–how much worse this will be when I lose Dad, as he is the only parent I have left. I know I am lucky. I had my mom for nearly sixty-two years; most people don’t get that long with one parent, let alone two. How much harder would this have been to deal with when I was younger and more immature?

But that is the kind of thing I always dismiss when it comes to mind–the path of regret is one of futility, wasted time and energy and emotion. You cannot change anything, so what is the point of trying to figure out or thinking about how different things might have been had you chosen A instead of B at this point, or D instead of Y then? The ripple effect of every choice we make reaches people we don’t know in ways we’ll never know, so maybe different choices made by me could have resulted in horrible things happening to other people, and why on earth would I wish bad things for people I don’t even know? That sounds terrible, frankly, and nothing I would ever want.

In some ways, this morning I am kind of looking forward to the drive north. I mean, yes, the destination is grim and sad, but it’s a beautiful drive; I have a great novel to listen to, and I really am looking forward to seeing my father. I want to get a good look at him, you know, and listen to him and see how he is doing. It’s so hard to tell via email or text, you know? Nothing like having eyes on someone for a proper assessment. I’ve decided to go up there this summer for a while, keep him company and spend some more time with him. (And yes, hateful little voice inside my head, I am very aware that I should have been doing this when Mom was alive. No sense in regrets, but I don’t want to feel this way when I lose Dad, so…changes in mentality and thinking are necessary going forward. I do wish it were easier to get up there than it is, though. I don’t think anyone can fault me for thinking that, either.)

Ah well, I have work-at-home duties to take care of as well as chores, so I am going to bring this to a close and head into the spice mines. I’ll check in with you again tomorrow before I leave, Constant Reader, and have a lovely day.

Gambler

And we have again made it to Thursday, Constant Reader. Huzzah for us! For a few days there I was wondering if we would, indeed, get this far. It’s funny; one of the things that are almost stereotype level for older people is that we all seem to think that time just flew past and the next thing we know, we’re old.

That is certainly not the case in my life.

I will be sixty-two years old this year (four more shopping months; plan ahead to beat the shopping crowds!), and sometimes it seems like I’ve been alive for well over a hundred years. My childhood was so long ago it feels like it happened to someone else and I watched the movie or read the book or something. High school? An eternity ago. So, no, I don’t feel like time flew past and my life went by too quickly or anything like that. I lived every day of my sixty-one years, and they did not pass quickly. Od sure, I’ve had time fly but it’s primarily because I wasn’t paying attention to the dates or anything, then realized oh this weekend is Easter? Where did March go? but that’s the illusion that time went quickly because I wasn’t paying attention to dates or anything like that. That is why time seems to pass by quickly–it does when you aren’t paying attention, so yes, there are times when it does happen, but overall in the scope of my life, not so much.

Last night I was very tired when I got home from work, and of course, Scooter was whining for a lap. We got caught up on The Mandalorian (I’m not really enjoying this season, to be honest.) and then tried a new animated show on HBO that was terrible and we stopped; then we watched the first episode of the new Rob Lowe show. At first, I thought it was going to be rough–it’s about the relationship of a father and son who are slightly estranged having to come together to deal with the loss of their wife/mother. At first I thought the parallels might hit too close to home, but I didn’t find myself getting upset or sad or anything; it’s actually kind of a cute little show. We watched the pilot last night, and will probably keep going with it tonight.

I also pulled together all the stuff I need to do to start rereading and revising Mississippi River Mischief, which is going to be a terribly all consuming task once started; I also have to get my tax stuff done and turned into my accountant rather quickly; I also started pulling all of that together last night as well. The house is still a mess, and we have to take Scooter in for his senior panel and I have to go to Costco this weekend as well. Tomorrow is Good Friday, which used to be a work holiday for us; now we get Juneteenth instead, which is fine with me. I’m not Catholic so Good Friday isn’t important to me; although New Orleans is very Catholic and so it’s kind of a thing here (it’s all tied to Carnival and Lent, you see; the third part of that Holy Trinity is Easter weekend). I know there are parades on Sunday–there are always parades for a holiday, although with the passing of local legend and icon Chris Owens (who sponsored and put on one of them in the Quarter), we may be a parade down this year. I wrote about Easter and New Orleans in Vieux CarrĂ© Voodoo, all those years ago, when I was tying Scotty books to holidays and events in the city (to date, I have never written a word about Jazz Fest because I don’t go). I also pulled the short stories together into one document to get an idea of how close I am to a complete collection and was stunned, startled, and delighted to see that I have about 73,000 words of This Town and Other Stories. That’s actually enough for a collection, but I’d rather it came in between 90 and 100k words. I can either write more short stories or I can finish one of the novellas; in either case, that’s very exciting for me, needless to say. (It will, of course, have to wait until some of the anthologies that some of the stories appear in are published.)

This weekend I have to make a Costco run and take Scooter in for his senior panel; I hate the thought of my kitty getting old. We’ve had Scooter now for nearly thirteen years, and he was supposedly a full grown two year old when we got him; I swear that he’s grown since we got him and not because we overfeed him. Do cats age in dog years? That would make Scooter 105! I don’t even want to think about that in terms of how little time we have left with our orange sweetheart. It’ll break Paul’s heart when he goes, and it’s not like I’ll be a barrel of laughs, either. (We’d definitely get another cat, though; maybe even a bonded pair.) I also miss having outdoor kitties come running when they hear my car pulling up outside. Tiger is still living in the carriage house, but Buddy was declining and had to finally be put down last weekend. We used to have as many as five or six strays we fed and played with; I miss that. It does,, however, make me wonder about where all the strays in the city have gone, or even the indoor/outdoor ones who come begging like they don’t have food at home.

I kind of am worrying about how miserable this summer is going to be down here. It’s already hot and humid–yesterday when I got into the car after work it felt like climbing into an oven–which means the Gulf is heating up and it’s a la nina year, which means good conditions for hurricane formation in the Atlantic. Hurray. I’m really glad, though, we have that new HVAC system, which really works in the summer.

And on that note, Constant Reader, I am going to head into the mines for spice. Have a lovely Thursday, Constant Reader, and I will talk to you again tomorrow morning.

Beast of Burden

Wednesday and only two–count ’em, two–days left before the parades start rolling down St. Charles, so tonight after work I am taking the highway and swinging by Costco on my way home. Yesterday was an okay day in that I never really felt tired or drained, which is always a plus. I did manage to start working on the first stage of the revisions of the manuscript–and I started working on something cool and exciting and new, but must remain a secret for now until I get it all figured out and worked out–and that’s terrific. I am sure going to Costco after work today is going to be a draining experience–but it’s never as bad as just going to a regular grocery store or Walmart, frankly. I also have to clean up around the kitchen this morning because I am doing a ZOOM thing for the MWA-Midwest chapter tomorrow night. I also have to go in Friday morning for a staff meeting (yay) but that’s fine; I can run to the grocery store for last minute things and pick up the mail afterwards so we’re good through Monday.

Because the grocery store won’t be a zoo the first Friday morning of parades, either.

I’m a bit groggy this morning. I slept pretty much through the entire night, other than when Scooter began howling for food early in the morning. He’s such a sweetheart, though. I went to bed last night before Paul got home and fell asleep almost immediately. I woke up when Paul got home and Scooter was curled up, nestled inside my right arm with his head right next to mine. You have to love a cat that’s just a big ole cuddlebug.

While I waited for Paul last night–I am still in the final stages of the malaise, alas; my creativity at a very low ebb at the moment–I started going through the manuscript, this time getting character names and seeing which characters actually had their names changed from one thing to another over the course of the manuscript (which happens when you don’t have a character key, which I know and don’t know why I didn’t keep up with mine as the manuscript progressed…especially when you have a fashion show with how many drag queens walking the runway? But the manuscript, even with the slight glances I was giving to it as I went through pulling out character names, didn’t seem nearly as messy and sloppy as I remember it being while I was writing it–which can be either my faulty memory or my usual self-loathing of any and every thing I write. The latter is always possible, but so is the former. At some point I should probably address my failing memory on here…but not today; I shall save that for some morning when I am not awake before sunrise and can focus properly on writing about my aging mind.

I was too tired to read as well last night; I am hoping to break that tonight when I get home. I am in the midst of two really fun and well written crime novels–Abby Collette’s Body and Soul Food and Ruth Ware’s The Lying Game–and so maybe every night when Paul’s not home I should take a book to bed with me? I don’t know how that might work, to be honest; usually I am so groggy by the time I climb the stairs I’m not sure how much reading I could do–let alone retain–late in the evening. I was pretty worn out by the time I finished watching Airplane! on HBO MAX (I got tired of scrolling through Youtube videos to watch so decided to rewatch one of my favorite comedies of all time–which has some eyebrow raising moments, but still holds up for the most part) and maybe that’s what I should start doing on the evenings when Paul works late–watch an old movie, maybe even a rewatch of a particular favorite, like Rogue One or something I’ve not seen in years, like Double Indemnity.

But today’s goal is to finish the character list and start the outline, so I can see what corrections needs to be made, what sections might need moving, and where I need to add more. I am feeling more awake now–coffee always helps, but my legs feel like they’re still not completely awake yet, which is a weird feeling that I am not describing properly to get across. It’s not like they’re asleep and tingling, or even exhausted or fatigued or anything like that–they just feel like they’re not awake, which isn’t getting the way it feels across, is it? Ah, well, it doesn’t matter because they don’t feel like they’re still sleeping in the bed, anyway.

And I still haven’t gotten an Arthur Hardy’s Mardi Gras Guide 2023 yet, either.

And on that note, I am heading into the spice mines. Have a lovely day, Constant Reader.

Wild Horses

Thursday morning last day in the office for the week blog, and I am feeling kind of okay this morning. I slept really well last night (yay!) which is a relief because I was so tired and groggy last night I kept falling asleep in my chair. I also didn’t make the quota yesterday, which means a big push tonight to catch up. Paul was exhausted, too, from all his late nights working lately, so he was in and out of sleep all evening as well. Needless to say, Scooter was in heaven, as he could sleep in my lap, go upstairs and sleep with Paul, and then come downstairs and sleep in my lap again. But I feel very relaxed and rested this morning, and my brain isn’t groggy and goofy, which bodes well for the rest of my day. I have to do fasting labs tomorrow (joy), which means rolling out of bed, washing my face and brushing my teeth before venturing down to the lab to get the blood drawn–I’ll have my go cup of coffee waiting in the car for me, though. And of course, Saturday I have that event at the convention center in the morning.

So, naturally now that I am in the deep weeds with the book, I saw two calls for submissions for anthologies that I may have something on hand for; I am also trying to finish a story for another anthology that I should have finished already. It truly never ends around here, you know?

Last night as I was struggling to stay awake with a purring kitty asleep in my lap, I decided to check out Velma on HBO MAX. There was a lot of talk about this show when it first aired–the usual oh you’ve ruined my childhood nonsense–but I intended to check it out anyway because of course they decided to make Velma officially a lesbian (which we’ve always suspected anyway), and I do feel a kind of obligation to watch anything that may have some queer representation in it. There was a lot of outrage, but I tried to watch with an open mind as a long time fan of Scooby Doo Where Are You? and yes, my pretties, I watched it when it originally aired on Saturday mornings when I was a kid who loved mysteries. (Although I always preferred Jonny Quest.) The outrage about “ruining my childhood” always makes me tired–your childhood isn’t ruined, and your memories of something you loved as a child haven’t been affected; if anything you’re just disappointed because they changed something you loved rather than just feeding you the same old bullshit you’ve been eating all along. I thought an origin story for Mystery Inc. was a clever enough idea, and seeing how the gang all came to be what they were in the show we all loved as kids was interesting enough to make me curious to watch. I also am not someone who gets up in arms about adaptations changing things from the original book–it’s a different medium, hello, of course it’s never going to be the same, plus watching a film or television show is an entirely different thing from actually, you know, reading a book? As for the complaints, well, I don’t care that they made Velma south Asian. I don’t care that they made Daphne vapid and Freddy stupid. What I do mind is they did such a terrible job with such great raw material. The show isn’t funny, engaging, or entertaining in the least, which was very disappointing to me. There were a couple of clever moments of winking at the audience that I enjoyed, but overall? When I finished the first episode I had absolutely little to no desire to watch another. It was a great idea the producers simply didn’t deliver on.

And yes, that’s disappointing. I can live with changes to story and characters, and am more than happy to embrace new interpretations of the canon…but I do expect the characters and story to be engaging. I think they were maybe a little too focused on the subversion of the traditional Mystery Inc. characters and stories that they forgot the most important part of story-telling: the story. I don’t even need my characters to be likable–but I do have to be able to identify with them in some way.

And on that note, I am going to head into the spice mines. Have a great Thursday, Constant Reader, and Ill chat at you again later.

Welcome to the Room

Saturday!!!

Well, Paul left yesterday and suddenly I find myself living alone in this enormous apartment. It’s weird how that works. I guess Paul just is a very large personality or something like that? It’s just weird to me how the apartment can seem so different while he’s gone. I do sometimes, as I am morbid by nature, sometimes think when he goes away like this and I get bored and/or lonely and/or feel like I’m rattling around in this big huge empty space, well, if you outlive him this will be your future and I’m not quite sure how I feel about that? I know I don’t like thinking in those terms, but as the years pass and more things happen and we have different things happening to us health-wise and so forth, you do start getting a stronger sense of your own mortality, whether you like it or not. I always thought I would die relatively young, so I always feel like I am already living on bonus time I wasn’t meant to have–and yet, I keep going on somehow. It’s a complete mystery to me.

Sometimes I feel like Ishmael.

LSU has the weekend off like they always do the week before the Alabama game, so there’s no reason for me to have the television on for much today. Oh, sure, I won’t be able to resist having Georgia-Florida (“The World’s Biggest Cocktail Party”) game on, as I am expecting Georgia to humiliate the Gators (sorry, UF fans, I very rarely–if ever–want your team to win, but I am sure you return the favor and want LSU to lose every game they play as well), and I am not really all that sure who else is playing today, to be honest–I know Mississippi is at Texas A&M, which is a tough one for me to chose a favorite in; although I think I am going to have to lean towards Mississippi a bit–but again, my plan is to work this morning, run my errands (including making groceries–not much, but some), and then come home to clean and organize the apartment. I’m also going to take my laptop upstairs as well as a flash drive so I can use Paul’s computer if I need to write (and don’t want to use the laptop), and spend the rest of the day cleaning upstairs and trying to get things under control somewhat more up there. One can hope, at any rate.

I like my new espresso maker! I tried it out yesterday morning and it worked wonderfully. I think I may go back to having one in the mornings before I head into the office; that bold shot of caffeine certainly did its trick yesterday morning. I am currently having a homemade cappuccino as I type this, and it’s quite delicious, if I do say so myself. Having one yesterday didn’t affect last night’s sleep, as I feared would turn out to be the case. I slept great last night, despite being alone in the bed–Scooter helped a lot, as a cuddly purr-kitty–and I feel very rested and well this morning. Which is good, because I have a very big day planned here around the Lost Apartment–cleaning and writing and organizing–and I also have those errands to get to.

I must confess that after my work-at-home duties were completed yesterday I was terribly lazy. I didn’t write a word, which is shameful–I was mentally fatigued, plus off-balance because it was my first Paul-free evening–and so I rewatched Nicholas Roeg’s film of Daphne du Maurier’s Don’t Look Now on HBO MAX. I highly recommend the movie and the story; it’s really one of my all-time favorites, and the film does an excellent job with the story–far more so than Hitchcock did with her story The Birds (if you like Hitchcock’s film, you really need to read the original story, which is vastly superior in my opinion). I also finished my annual reread of Shirley Jackson’s The Haunting of Hill House, which as always was completely captivating. I cannot get over marveling at what an incredibly lyrical writer Jackson was, or how her prose just sings from the page while magnificently creating a morbid, melancholy tone that is, in and of itself, haunting. (I was thinking about watching the Netflix adaptation of Jackson’s We Have Always Lived in the Castle, another one of my favorites; Merricat Blackwood is one of the great fictional characters of the twentieth century in my opinion) I may dive into some Paul Tremblay short stories this weekend since I don’t have the time to finish reading another Halloween Horror novel, but tonight I may rewatch the original, classic film of Halloween again. I think I do owe it to myself to watch some horror films leading up to Halloween, don’t you think? Don’t Look Now, while not quite horror, certainly does fit the bill somewhat for my mini-film festival…I wonder if Robert Wise’s The Haunting is free to stream anywhere? That is probably my favorite horror film of all time–it scared me shitless when I was a small child, and still does to this day; skip the execrable remake, but the Netflix series adaptation is quite good, actually; the episode called “The Bent-neck Lady” is one of the best episodes of television ever filmed, in my opinion. I also want to spend some time today revisiting what I’ve written so far for Mississippi River Mischief to get an outline done and a character list, which I really need to get done, and I also plan to revisit another project I’m working on and am quite far behind on now.

I do have some laundry to do, some clean dishes to put away, and of course the floors always need to be done. I am going to spend the rest of this morning cleaning the kitchen and making a list for my mini-grocery making today; there are a couple of things I need to pick up–nothing much, really–and of course I have to drop off yet another box of books to the library sale. I also need to put air in one of my tires, and ugh, I have so much to do before my trip home for Thanksgiving. Heavy heaving sigh–sometimes it doesn’t help to look ahead, does it?

And on that note, I am going to bring this to a close and head into the spice mines. Happy Saturday, Constant Reader, and may your day be as lovely as you are.

Seven Wonders

If I live to see the seven wonders, I’ll make a path to the rainbow’s end…

It’s 49 degrees here in New Orleans this morning–it could have been worse, and was predicted to be worse–so I can’t complain too much. It’s chilly inside the apartment this morning, but I have on my sweats and a stocking cap and feel okay. I didn’t want to get out of the warmth of the bed this morning–who can blame me–but I do feel somewhat rested this morning, which is always an enormous plus. I managed to not feel exhausted yesterday, so I managed to reconfigure Chapter Five so it is no longer a steaming pile of crap and now feel like I can move on to Chapter Six. Huzzah! Progress, Constant Reader, we are making progress at long last and it feels marvelous. We also watched this week’s Reboot (seriously, y’all, this show is hilarious and marvelous and you should be watching) and started the new season of The Vow on HBO–remember the NXIVM cult? They got a second season, which is going to be interesting as it covers the trials and has interviews with some of those higher-ups who pled guilty…but I am not seeing the cult leaders who finally woke up and brought them down as heroic, frankly. I have mixed feelings about them, to be honest; when they finally turned they really turned, but they were also involved for years and recruited lots of people–especially women–to the group, so I don’t know. There’s something to be said for atonement, I suppose, which is one of those esoteric philosophical questions about crime and punishment and our legal system (I’ve always felt conflicted, for example, about the sex offenders’ registry; I totally get why the neighborhood should know a convicted sex offender has moved into the neighborhood but at the same time it feels like a continuation of their punishment–either you do the time and are rehabilitated or you’re not…this conflict of fairness in my mind is what led me to write my story “Neighborhood Alert”).

I actually listened to my Sisters in Crime podcast interview with Julie Hennrikus (I tend to avoid listening to recordings of my voice, as I don’t like how I sound) for a change, and started to wonder about this distaste I have for hearing my voice. I don’t sound to myself anything like I sound on recordings, so for one thing it’s jarring to my sense of self (“that’s what other people hear when I talk?”), kind of like photographs, and there’s a bit of an effeminacy to my voice, I think–or that I hear–that makes me uncomfortable–and as I listened last night (it’s an interesting conversation, and Julie is a marvelous interviewer) I began to wonder why I hate the sound of my voice so much. There’s nothing wrong with sounding effeminate, so why does it get under my skin the way it does? It makes little to no sense, and it’s definitely something to do with the self-loathing I developed as a child from being an outsider. But after I started listening, after a while I stopped cringing as my voice came out of the computer speakers and started paying attention. Julie is a marvelous conversationalist/interviewer, and I felt like I didn’t come across as a pompous and arrogant fool who doesn’t really know what he’s talking about, which is also a plus. (I’ve always felt that authors should be good interviews, since they are story-tellers; the interviewer’s job is to prod the subject into telling an entertaining story–which I think is another part of it; I tend to think my life and my writing processes and anecdotes aren’t terribly interesting, which again goes to the core of self-deprecation and humility that I am trying to break as it is not only counter-intuitive but it’s a bad quality for an author to have…I am always so afraid I’m going to sound arrogant and ungrateful that I tend to go too far the other way.)

But now that I am working on my aversion to hearing my voice, I can listen to the other podcast i recently recorded with Ricky Grove, about My Cousin Rachel, you can listen by clicking here if you like. I am actually now looking forward to listening myself–now that I am getting over my aversion to my own voice–and listening to myself more regularly will help me conquer that aversion, yank it out by the roots, as it were. Working on improving myself will clearly never stop until I breathe my last, will it?

I’m hoping to have a productive day, really. I feel rested, my brain isn’t feeling fatigued, and I feel more alert than I did earlier this week. I need to get some life-function things to do (make sure all bills are listed on calendar; remake my to-do list) and tonight after work I am hoping to be able to sit down and bang out Chapter Six, as well as perhaps read some more into ‘salem’s Lot while I wait for Paul to get home from work. I think I’ve pretty much decided not to make the trip to Boston for Crime Bake–flying back and two weeks later having to drive to Kentucky sounds exhausting and like way too much for me already–plus with the book deadline looming over everything, that makes it less promising to take a second trip before the deadline, alas–so it’s probably smarter for me to go ahead and cancel that trip…but I may keep the time off I’ve requested so I can work on the book. Hmmm, decisions, decisions. But I also need to be able to take time off to go to New York in January for my last hurrah for Mystery Writers of America…so who knows? Maybe I should just cancel the vacation requests and work? I don’t know. I hate making decisions because I am so certain that I will make the wrong one…

See how insidious that self-deprecating self-loathing thing is? It pops up everywhere. Why can I never make a decision that either makes sense for me or with confidence that I’m making the right one? Sigh, I don’t know and probably never will, I suppose.

And on that cheery note, I am heading into the spice mines. Have a lovely day, Constant Reader and I will talk to you again tomorrow.

Mabel Normand

Saturday in the Lost Apartment and all is well–at least so far.

I ran errands last night on my way home from work so I don’t have to go anywhere or do anything today involving leaving the house, and I think I’ll go ahead and make groceries on-line today to pick up tomorrow; we don’t really need a lot of stuff but it must be done. There’s a part of me that feels incredibly lazy doing this for some reason–perhaps the more I do it, the less guilt I’ll feel about having someone else make my groceries for me. I guess that’s really what it is; getting used to a new service. I mean, even the Fresh Market will do this, too–but one of the things I like about the Fresh Market is, well, everything seems fresher than at the other groceries, and picking out fruit and vegetables isn’t something I am willing to trust to another person just yet. I like to see the fresh stuff I am buying and pick it (although I am still regretting not stopping at that roadside stand when I was on the North Shore last weekend and picking up some Creole tomatoes fresh from the field, especially since I’ve not seen any in stores since then).

It rained again most of the day, and of course we’re still under a flood warning through sometime tonight. There are two systems out there I’ve yet to check but probably will momentarily. It’s that time of year when we seem to be getting hit with a higher degree of frequency since Katrina–just before Labor Day–and I know there have been at least three more storms around this time that I can think of right off the top of my head (2008, 2012, and last year for sure). Well, I took a look and yes, there is still a system in the Caribbean near the Yucatan, and there’s another one developing in the eastern Atlantic (meaning there are now two out there) but at least we’re okay for now. Labor Day weekend, on the other hand, could be something else entirely. Last year’s Ida was more of a Labor Day thing, if I am remembering correctly, or at least its impact and aftermath lasted through Labor Day. (2021 is still kind of blurry for me.)

The sun is shining right now, and I rested really well last night. A good night’s sleep is always a pleasure on the weekends, of course, and I even allowed myself the indulgence of sleeping in a little later. I have some laundry to finish and a sink to clear in the kitchen, and some other casual cleaning up and household maintenance to take care of this morning before I dive back into the wonderful world of work. I did get Chapter One rewritten Thursday–still leaves something to be desired, but isn’t completely the shitty mess it was before–and I did get started revising Chapter Two, which is going to be trickier–and then I have to springboard into Chapter Three, which I still have to figure out. I also want to do some work on some other things I am working on (as always) and I want to dedicate some time to reading Gabino’s marvelous novel The Devil Takes You Home today and tomorrow. I’ve actually been better these last couple of weeks at not being completely exhausted when I get home, which has also enabled me to try, at some level, to keep up with the housework so I don’t have to spend the entire day today cleaning and organizing and filing–there will be some of that, of course, and I also have to spend some time revisiting older Scotty books; maybe one of the things I could do today is start working on the Scotty Bible? That would help me remember everything that’s going on in the family and refresh my brain about some other things (did I ever give Rain’s doctor husband a name, for one really strong example of bad memory) and of course it would never hurt to have all of that assembled in one place that is easily accessible. Heavy sigh.

We also are watching Bad Sisters on Apple TV, and am really enjoying it. It’s rather dark; it’s about five extremely close Irish sisters who lost their parents young and were all raised by the oldest sister, who now lives in the family home, is single and apparently unable to have children. One of the sisters is married to an emotionally abusive asshole named John Paul who apparently takes delight in torturing and being cruel not only to his wife but to her sisters. One decides he needs to die, and recruits the oldest to help her kill him…and then each episode details how another sister got involved in the plan. The show opens with his funeral, so we know they succeed at some point, but the story alternates between the past (the sisters slowly coming together to decide to kill The Prick, which is what they all call him) and the team of brothers who work for the insurance company who have to pay out the death claim. The brothers (half-brothers, actually; one is played by the same hot actor who played the escort Emma Thompson hires for sex in her most recent film, which we enjoyed and I can’t recall the name of now) don’t really get along either. The oldest is convinced John Paul was murdered, but the younger brother is really attracted to the youngest sister and they are starting to develop a romantic relationship. It’s quite cleverly written and plotted–and even before I was completely sold on the show, I realized I wanted to keep watching because I hated John Paul so much I wanted to see how they decided to kill him and how. But well into the second episode I had to confess to being hooked. I loved the dueling timelines (I have always been a sucker for stories that are told this way, both the past and the present, flashing back and forth; I’ve always wanted to do one that way, but it seems really hard. A good example of a crime novel using this technique is Alison Gaylin’s What Remains of Me), the writing is sharp, and the acting top notch. It also takes place in Ireland, with gorgeous cinematography. I’ll keep you posted as we continue to watch.

We also watched the latest episode of Five Days at Memorial, which was truly painful to watch. The first episodes didn’t really get to me, but episode five–the fifth day, when the decision was made that everyone had to be out of the hospital and whoever couldn’t get out would be left behind regardless of the consequences, was absolutely wrenching in a way the previous episodes had not been. My Katrina scars are as nothing compared to what a lot of other people experienced: I survived, I was able to get out before the storm arrived, and my scars, while still from loss, are from bearing witness by watching television and witnessing what I saw when I finally came home in October, as well as living in a nearly-empty, 90% destroyed city after my return. (Last year, when we trapped here as Ida came in, was bad enough; I cannot imagine how horrible it would have been to have been stuck here praying for someone to come rescue us. At least we were able, and had the means, to finally get out when we ran out of food and water.)

I’ve also found myself thinking a lot about my Katrina writing these last couple of days–my essay “I Haven’t Stopped Dancing Yet”; my short stories “Disaster Relief” and “Annunciation Shotgun” and “Survivor’s Guilt”; and of course, Murder in the Rue Chartres. I was thinking about this book last night–partly because of watching Five Days at Memorial, because it reminded me that Rue Chartres wasn’t supposed to be the third Chanse book at all. The third Chanse book was supposed to be something else altogether, but obviously in the wake of Hurricane Katrina my plans for both the Chanse and Scotty series had to dramatically shift and change. Seventeen years ago was a Saturday, the Saturday we nervously watched the storm, having now crossed south Florida and entered the Gulf, intensifying and growing and taking aim directly at New Orleans. We decided to not leave just yet; every other time a hurricane had threatened the city after we moved here we watched and waited patiently, and were rewarded with the storm turning east before coming ashore and the city avoiding a direct hit. We never lost phone, cable or power during those other instances–we were nervous, still reassuring ourselves of the turn to the east before landfall but the reality that we would have to leave was becoming more and more real. It’s odd that this year the dates all on the same day they fell back in 2005, so it’s a reflective anniversary that mirrors the actual weekend it happened. I’m debating whether I want to watch the new documentary on HBO MAX, Katrina Babies–that might be definitely too much for me to handle. (I’m still surprised that we’re able to–and were willing to–watch Five Days at Memorial, to be honest.)

At least I know Paul won’t be shaking me awake tomorrow morning at eight saying, Honey, we need to go.

OH! I didn’t tell you. Yesterday my other glasses I ordered from Zenni arrived–the red frames and the purple frames, and I absolutely love them. I don’t think I need to order any more pairs, to be honest, but it’s so cool to have them! And to have options now. I never ever thought of glasses as anything other than utilitarian, to be honest; I needed them to work and that was all I cared about, and I also thought they were too expensive to treat as part of a “look” or to be more style conscious…but Zenni is so inexpensive; the three pairs I got are all cheaper than the pair I got with my eye exam, and using my insurance. Had I saved my insurance for use on Zenni, they would have been even cheaper.

Life. CHANGED.

And on that note, I am going to make some more coffee and dive back into the spice mines. Have a lovely Saturday, Constant Reader.

Annabel Lee

Saturday in the Lost Apartment and all seems to be well. I slept late as I had planned–maybe a bit too late, but I also stayed up late to finish doing the laundry (it’s such an exciting and always oh-so-glamorous life I live here in the Lost Apartment. I have to run some errands a little later on–mail, make groceries, prescriptions, library–and some things to do around here to touch up and clean a bit. I want to do some writing and reading today as well as just relax and enjoy the day a bit. We finished watching The Sandman this week, which was incredible–I think everyone can enjoy it, frankly, and it’s so creative and smart and visually breathtaking; a sweep of technical Emmys would be incredibly well-deserved; but it’s also a fantasy show built upon a mythology that originated in the DC Comics super-hero world, so it probably won’t be taken as seriously by the Emmy voters as it should…but then again they were also all about Watchmen (which was, frankly, superb), so you never know. Game of Thrones didn’t do too badly with the Emmys, either. Regardless, The Sandman is brilliant and I highly recommend it.

We also started watching the new show on Apple+ by Dennis Lehane, Black Bird, starring Taron Edgerton, which is also really good and Edgerton really is enjoying the role he plays. (Paul and I decided that he and Tom Holland need to make a movie together where they play brothers; Edgerton is what Holland would look like were he not so baby-faced boyish looking…or they could easily pass for brothers.) Edgerton, who is very handsome and has an amazing body, also looks like he’s been buffing up his body, too. (I think we first noticed him in Kingsman…I also think he’d make a terrific Nightwing if they ever make a Nightwing movie, which they really need to–I was distressed to see the latest HBO MAX news that Titans will probably be cancelled, which means DIck and Kori need to get together this final season soon to be airing.) We blew through the first three episodes quickly; I am also thinking we need to watch Five Days At Memorial–it’s getting to be Katrina anniversary time, woo-hoo–which will undoubtedly be difficult to watch (that period is a very dark time, obviously, and reliving it, even through the guise of entertainment, is always difficult) but probably necessary.

Since watching It’s a Sin last year (or whenever it was it was released) opened a floodgate of sorts in my mind. I know I’ve mentioned here before that I had always, since about age thirty-three, chosen to focus on the present and the future and never look back. It always seemed counter-productive, and I had finally come around to the acceptance point of realizing that everything that has happened in my life–whether macro or micro–inevitably set me on the path that led me to where I am today, and as long as I am happy, did the past really matter? What was the point to having regrets, to wishing I had something differently? Doing anything differently would have changed my path, and direction, with absolutely no guarantee that I would either be happy–or have survived this long. I am sure there are many many alternative timelines for me that had me dying in the 1980’s or 1990’s, which is always a sobering reflection and one I always have to keep in mind. I am alive because of every decision I’ve made and every heartbreak and crisis and problem and bad thing that has ever happened to me, and I kind of like my life and who I am. I am aware of my flaws (probably not as aware as I could be) and I know what my strengths and weaknesses are as a general rule; my biggest worry is that I delude myself periodically about anything or everything or something, and I really don’t like the possibility that I have blinders on when it comes to anything to do with me, my life or my career, while knowing it’s a strong one. I also know sometimes I probably take on blame for wrong that isn’t my fault (another reason Charlie in Heartstopper resonated so strongly with me was him constantly thinking everything was his fault and always saying “sorry”; I could absolutely relate to that as I’ve done the same most of my life and it is generally always my default on everything).

But as I have said, watching It’s a Sin, and being reminded so viscerally and realistically of what that period of my life was like–oh, they were so heartbreakingly young–did make me start looking back, remembering and reevaluating and, while perhaps not actually having regret, actually mourning everyone and the world and the life perhaps we all could have had if the homophobes hadn’t been in charge of everything back then. By not looking back I don’t think I ever allowed myself to heal, even though so much time has passed it’s all scar tissue now. But scar tissue is generally tighter than the skin it repairs; one is never quite as flexible as one used to be before the wounds became scabs and finally scars. Writing, as always, has been an enormously helpful tool for me to process experiences and feelings without tearing the webbing of the scar tissue again. That’s why I think writing “Never Kiss a Stranger” is important to me, and why the story haunts me so. Both Bury Me in Shadows and #shedeservedit both were enormously helpful to me, forcing me to deconstruct and evaluate and look at harsh bitter truths I’ve tried to avoid most of my life. So I think it may be helpful to watch Five Days at Memorial, because perhaps enough time has passed for me to look back without the full range of painful emotion the memories brought before.

Hilariously, after all that bitching yesterday morning about the health fair, it turned out much differently than I was expecting. For one thing, their scale clearly was wrong; it clocked me at 196 pounds. If that was accurate, then I have lost sixteen pounds since I last visited my doctor–two weeks ago (I weighed 212 at his office). As that is most likely not possible–especially since I’d moaned in disbelief when putting on my pants yesterday morning only to find them snugger than they were the last time I’d put them, so the notion I’ve lost that much weight in such a short period of time without trying is utterly ludicrous on its face, preposterous. But it did kind of make me smile a little bit and shake my head.

And on that note, I think I am going to head into the spice mines. Have a lovely day, Constant Reader, and hope it’s everything you hoped it will be.