Back to December

And suddenly, one morning you wake up and it’s December, and you think, for just a moment, wow, how did that happen? And you try to remember last December….which now seems as long ago and remote as the Middle Ages. I mean, doesn’t it? As I was saying to someone the other day, “remember when RWA burned to the ground? It hasn’t even been a year yet, but that seems as remote in the past now as the Knights of the Round Table and Camelot.

Yesterday was a nice day to ease back into working. I didn’t have any issue getting up, nor was I tired when I got home; good thing, as I needed to go to the gym. I’d skipped Sunday because when I walked there and back on Friday, somehow I managed to rub a blister onto the back of my left heel, and it was painful wearing shoes. It was also cold and rainy, and between the blister and cold rain…yeah, wasn’t feeling it too much, so I decided to wait till I got home from work on Monday and hope that I’d have the energy and the willpower to go. It was incredibly cold (for New Orleans, coming in after weeks of high 70’s/low 80’s weather), but I bundled up into my sweats and off I went.

But despite the cold, a lovely workout was had, and then I scurried home. It was the cold wind, really, that made it so bad.

It was also supposed to get down to 38 last night. It certainly feels like it this morning as I sip my cappuccino, my hands desperately trying to leech all the heat out of the cup. I did manage to work on the book last night as well (another chapter down; roughly eleven left to go, but if I get one per day done it’ll be finished in ten days and then can sit for a moment or two while I get ready for the final polish before turning it in), which was lovely. It’s taking shape and getting better; I really can’t wait to get it turned in. I need to finish a story, too, and I need to really get cracking on the Kansas book when this is all done and behind me.

The sun is rising, which means the gradual warming will begin, which is lovely. It’ll be cold though when I dash out to my car, and from my car into the office, but at least that means I can wear a sweater. I love sweaters, and don’t get many opportunities to wear them, so there’s that part, which I do like. I also like when the apartment is cold, which means wearing sweats and watching television or reading underneath blankets. (I’m under one right now, in fact, and it’s nice and toasty; one of those thin ones that somehow manages to keep me warm, like the ones they used to give you on airplanes.)

The other thing about it being cold is it makes it harder for me to wake completely up. My insomnia came back last night with a vengeance–it’s been awhile, and I figured the cold, plus the exhaustion from the gym, would have put me under in no time at all. Instead, despite how lovely and warm the bed and blankets were, I never really feel into a deep, restful sleep. I am going to be extremely tired tonight, and may even go to bed earlier than I usually do; we shall see once I get home from the office today.

I do worry the world is going to close down again sometime soon–although I am fairly certain that even if we do, I’ll be considered an ‘essential worker’–I kind of think I am, even if I am not a medical professional; I help keep people safe and healthy (at least that’s the goal) and the service I do provide, which is necessary for our PrEP clients to get their prescriptions renewed, is kind of essential–but we did close the program down during the original lockdown, so….I just hope not. As little as I like getting up at six three mornings a week, I love interacting with my clients and getting out of the house and feeling useful. But I do think another one is coming; it’s just a matter of time, and as the infections rise thanks to Thanksgiving…imagine how people are going to be about Christmas.

And on that note, it’s time to get in the shower and pack my lunch and get my day rolling. Have a happy first of December, Constant Reader.

This Is Me Trying

And so here we are, sliding into Wednesday like we’re stealing third base.

I just realized yesterday morning that this coming Monday is Labor Day. A three day weekend! Huzzah! And one that I completely forgot about until Facebook memories reminded me about past Southern Decadence weekends, which are always Labor Day weekend–except for this year, of course.

Maybe, at some point this weekend, I’ll curl up with Frank Perez and Howard Philips Smith’s definitive history of the event, Southern Decadence in New Orleans. You should really consider getting a copy–and while you’re at it, you could get the e-book of Bourbon Street Blues, which is set during Southern Decadence. It’s so weird not having Decadence this year–this year has really sucked for everyone. I feel bad for the few people who are having a good year in some way, because the massive suckage has ruined everything–which really makes celebrating those successes all the more important for the rest of us, to claim a small victory over this shitty year whenever we can.

In my sad, almost desperate attempt to find something good in this year, I realized that, failing everything else, I’ve read some amazing books this year; have watched some excellent television shows; and the pandemic work-at-home-making-condom-packs has also enabled me to watch a lot of films I’ve never seen, which has also been not only educational but interesting. The Cynical 70’s Film Festival, for example, has been pretty awesome, and has reminded me a lot of what it was like growing up in that decade of earth tones and mood rings and disco balls and bell bottoms–just yesterday at the office between clients some of the kids and I–I wasn’t the one who brought it up either–started talking about the Bermuda Triangle, which was a thing in in the 1970’s (this was triggered by the storm system heading up the Atlantic coast, which startled both of my co-workers, who’d always thought Bermuda was in the Caribbean–I laughed and said, yes, I’d always thought the same until I read The Deep and this led into an entire discussion of Bermuda’s geographic location which led, as free form conversations tend to do, a lot of jumping around on the topic of Bermuda, which led to the Bermuda Triangle). It wasn’t a real thing, after all; just another one of the many weird conspiracies and so forth that existed and proliferated in that crazy decade–although Area 54 and UFO’s seem to be turning out to be an actual thing (both of which were very popular topics of discussion and wonder in the 1970’s–hence Close Encounters of the Third Kind).

Maybe I should look into the Bermuda Triangle. Hmmmm.

Last night the Insomnia Curse was broken and I slept like the dead. I woke up at five, looked at my alarm, and rolled over and went back to sleep. My alarm–which I hadn’t set–went off  at seven this morning (maybe I dreamed it; it was set for six from the last two mornings) and so I was able to shut it off and sleep a bit more. I feel marvelously rested and awake this morning (despite the Internet outage; I am freeloading off the Cox Wi-fi–which I don’t understand; I have access to this as a Cox customer, but my home wireless is out; how can one work without the other? I don’t know and I don’t want to hurt my brain by trying to figure it out). Anyway, according to the Cox website our home wireless should be back up by around 1:30, so I am okay with using this until such time as ours comes back up. It’s okay; there’s any amount of on-line work stuff I can do until the wireless comes back up and I can stream movies whilst making condom packs again–today’s choices range from Bonnie and Clyde (technically a late 1960’s movie, but it was one of the films that signaled the change in Hollywood film), All the President’s Men, and Klute–but I am always amazed at how helpless we’ve become without the Internet or access to it, you know?

I was extremely tired last evening when I got home from the office; I was tired a lot during the day, but kept having these weird spurts of energy, and even had one after i got home from work. I sat down in the easy chair after doing the dishes and unpacking my backpack and rewatched this week’s episode of The Vow, which I kept dozing off while trying to watch on Monday night. It’s a very interesting show–cults have always been of interest to me (the 1970’s, by the way, was a big time for them) and I have always kind of wanted to write about one. When we were living in Kansas, there was actually a local one; the Way. There had used to be two colleges in Emporia, the county seat: Kansas State Teachers College (which evolved into Emporia Kansas State College and finally to what it is now, Emporia State University) and the College of Emporia. C of E was a religious school; Presbyterian, to be exact, but it had gone bankrupt and closed down in or around 1973, after which the campus was purchased by the Way International–which was a cult. When we first moved to Lyon County, since my sister and I were both teenagers, everyone warned us about the Way College of Emporia and to be careful. The members were easy to identify, really; for one thing, they always traveled in pairs, wore Polo-style shirts with name tags identifying them as members of the Way International, and they also wore khaki style pants. They also were always smiling and had a glazed look to their eyes. There were also all kinds of rumors about what went on at the campus; armed guards–and I remember seeing them–patrolled the grounds and the boundaries, keeping the curious away; and of course there were always stories about weird bonfires and ceremonies being seen from a distance, and “this guy I know is friends with a cop and they always get calls from the people who live around the campus about dogs disappearing and hearing screams from the campus and…” you know the type of thing; the story that has grown exponentially from what was originally said so you aren’t really sure what the kernel of truth in the story actually was; I actually have a file folder labeled The Cult in my file cabinet with some research I did about the Way International over the years, with an eye to writing a novel about it some day. (Obviously, The Cult is too obvious a title to actually use for such a book)

Who knew Kansas in the 1970’s was such a gold mine of material for a writer?

I’ve also been researching Chlorine while being too tired to focus on either reading or writing anything–I am definitely itching to get back to Little Fires Everywhere, and when I finish working today I am going to get Chapter Seven of Bury Me in Shadows whipped into shape for sure–and there’s such a glorious wealth of material about the closeted stars and closeted Hollywood of the time; I am kind of surprised no one has done a noir about underground gay Hollywood of the time already. (Of course, now that I’ve said that, there will probably be eighty-five million of them before I get this damned thing done) It was such an interesting period–obviously, there are biographies of the gay stars of the time (Rock Hudson, Montgomery Clift, Anthony Perkins, etc.) and there’s even a biography of Henry Willson, the gay agent played by Jim Parsons in Ryan Murphy’s Hollywood, who represented all the beefcakes male stars of the time–but I am also interested in the ones who never quite made it as movie stars, either, and the clients of Willson who were beefcakes but not gay–like Guy Madison, who was certainly gorgeous and hunky and eventually had a hit TV show. I bet their stories are just as interesting as Rock Hudson’s and the other big closeted stars.

And on that note, tis back to the spice mines with me. Have a lovely Wednesday, everyone.

IMG_4209

Stay Beautiful

I really do miss the gym.

All those years of inactivity, and of not going to the gym, and now of course I am becoming more acutely aware of how soft, saggy, and squishy my body has become. Heavy sigh. But, per my new mentality and outlook on life that I am trying to implement, I am not going to allow myself to regret said last time or anything of that nature, and simply will try to find time in each week to not only get a nice stretch done, but to do some crunches and possibly push-ups; based on the theory that some exercise is better than none. And I also know it helps make me feel better; I have one of those round ridged things that you can roll your back over to self-massage (I am describing this badly, well aware) and I used it yesterday, and felt exponentially better; I am going to try to use it as many days I can remember to do so. Self-care is always crucial, and during these difficult and strange times in which we find ourselves, even more so.

Yesterday morning I got up an hour earlier than I usually do on Mondays; something I was resisting doing because I am not now, nor have ever been, much of a morning person, and the thought of getting up at or around six in the morning was anathema to me. But I did it, and had coffee and breakfast and woke myself up a great deal more than usual, and I even managed to get to work early and have a jump on the day–and that was actually lovely. When I got home from work I was tired; very tired–partly from getting up so early and partly because there was some minor stress involved at work in the afternoon; I  was required to do some problem-solving, and while (he typed modestly) it’s something I am actually quite good at, it’s still draining and stressful and tiring while I am in the midst of it, and particularly when the adrenaline from the stress finally drains away. I came home and tucked myself up in my easy chair with Little Fires Everywhere (I cannot emphasize enough how much I am enjoying this book) and then did some organizing and cleaning in my office while the LSU-Texas A&M game from last season played on Youtube as delightful background noise while I waited for Paul to come home.

After Paul got home–and I read some more–we settled in to watch this week’s episode of The Vow, during which I kept dozing off, which I thought meant I had a lovely night’s sleep ahead of me. Alas, my old friend insomnia came back for a visit last evening, and so while I was enormously relaxed and comfortable in the bed, my mind never completely shut down, so I was partially awake for the majority, if not all, of the night, I’m not tired per se this morning as I drink my coffee, nor am I groggy; but I don’t have high hopes for a productive day other than seeing my clients. It’s definitely fine; I suppose–what other choice do I have, really–but a good night’s sleep would obviously have been more preferable. Ah, well, perhaps tonight that will happen–Lord knows I should be tired and sleepy tonight.

I also started working on a new short story for some reason last night instead of working on the book; reading Little Fires Everywhere started making me think of a new story–as good writing always does inspire me–and I wanted to write the opening down before I forgot it; it didn’t quite go the way I’d planned, as these things never really do, and it is definitely veering off the track I’d originally intended for it to go, but it’s called “Noblesse Oblige”–the relationship between Mrs. Richardson and Mia in the book made me start thinking about a certain kind of wealthy, or upper middle class, woman; whom I generally tend to refer to as “limousine liberals”–the kind who are all about the right causes and doing what they can to help those who aren’t as privileged as they are, but don’t want to get too close to those underprivileged people and are inevitably surprised and shocked when their “generosity” isn’t met with the worshipful adoration and gratitude they feel it should be–and become resentful. You know, the ones who say things like “after everything I’ve done for you”–which, to me, has become an incredibly loaded statement.

While the show Friends hasn’t aged terribly well, every so often there was an episode that was absolutely (and probably accidentally) insightful about the human condition; this was one in which Joey and Phoebe had an argument about doing charity work or doing things for other people; Joey’s position (which, ironically, was the same as Ayn Rand’s) was that there was no such thing as a selfless act, because even the most noble person gets a sense of satisfaction after doing something charitable. Phoebe, who “didn’t want to live in a world where Joey was right, desperately spent the entire episode trying, and failing, to prove Joey wrong. It was so strange to me, and jarring, to see a philosophy of Ayn Rand’s being illustrated so perfectly on a situation comedy on my television screen that I never forgot the episode (yes, I’ve read Ayn Rand; but unlike many who profess to be her devotees and acolytes I have read beyond Atlas Shrugged and The Fountainhead; I also read her other novels–Anthem, We the Living–and most of her non-fiction as well–which is why I find the modern day political posturing of those who profess to be her followers revolting and a bastardization of her philosophy; because they clearly haven’t read anything beyond the two novels that she used to illustrate her beliefs and values. For the record, I believe her philosophy and theories were interesting, but ultimately would never truly work because they weren’t based in any sort of reality–however, the purpose of this entry is not to point out the fallacies in Randian philosophy and this is merely a sidebar); and I think about it every now and again whenever I am presented with someone’s “good works”.  One is never supposed to question someone’s motives for doing something charitable; it is always to be assumed they are doing it because they are a good, generous, kind and giving person; and it is cynical to question the motives behind charity: that the reason and motives behind the act aren’t important and shouldn’t be questions because the act is, in and of itself, such a good thing that it should be above reproach.

And while there is some truth to that, I always question motives, and if that makes me a cynic, so be it. I do a lot of volunteer work, and I’ve donated writing to charity anthologies over the years, and have edited, for free, others. Inevitably, though, I do gain something from all of this: self-satisfaction in helping others because I enjoy it, my name on the spine of a book is promotional even if I did the editing for free, and the same with the donated short stories–if someone who has never read my work before reads one of the donated stories and likes it, there’s always the possibility they will buy my other work–so inevitably the donation works as promotional material for my career. And I do get some satisfaction from helping people–it makes me feel good about myself, makes me feel like I am a better person than I probably am, and there’s also a sense of paying a cosmic, karmic debt in advance–the idea that doing something to help other people either repays people who’ve helped me, or will be banked so that someone will help me out in the future.

Which probably isn’t how that works, is it?

And on that philosophical note, tis off to the spice mines with me.

IMG_4219

Paninaro

Apparently, this old dog can learn some new tricks.

Yesterday morning, after the relapses of the previous weekend, I decided that I was going to have to give up caffeine again, as well as call my doctor’s office to see if I could get in sooner rather than later. After all, this has been going on for far longer than I would like, and perhaps more drastic measures were called for then just drinking Gatorade and water while cutting caffeine out. A friend suggested that I drink some PediaLyte, so on my way into the office I stopped at CVS, bought some–and suddenly, I felt like Gregalicious again. I just had always assumed, I guess, that Gatorade had whatever you needed in it to get over dehydration, and was apparently wrong. I drank water the rest of my shift, and was feeling a little dry-mouthed when I got home so I had another Pedialyte. Electrolytes were what were called for, and I am going to continue to drink one of these a day (at least) until this dehydration issue is taken care of. It was never something I ever really had to concern myself with–even after dancing all night on Ecstasy–but now, alas, yet another sign that my body is decaying.

But at least I know what to do now, even if it took me two weeks to figure it out.

I do learn, even if it takes me awhile.

It was lovely, though, last night to just feel tired and now it was from not sleeping well, rather than that horrible physical exhaustion.

Of course, I’m also on night four of insomnia.

But I am getting by. I’m still way behind on everything, and keep hoping that today–maybe–I’ll start to dig out from under. One can dream at any rate, can’t one? I need to get the Sherlock story worked on this week–in my fever state the other day I realized something could be cut and something should be added–and of course, last night as I was thinking about it, I started thinking about how much more could be done with the story; how much more could be done around Sherlock in New Orleans in the 1910’s; and how rich and layered and textured such a period piece could be…so of course I started wondering if I should think about possibly doing a Sherlock pastiche in this time period.

Because of course.

I read some more of the Woolrich last night; the pacing has picked up dramatically, although I’m still not sure where it’s going or how it could possibly end; and after Paul got home we tried to find a new show to watch, without much luck. Love Victor lasted about fifteen minutes–I wasn’t a big fan of Love Simon–and we tried a few other things before finally landing on another Agatha Christie adaptation, Ordeal by Innocence, which isn’t quite as I remembered the book either, but it’s an intriguing story and very well filmed and acted–and there are only three one hour episodes, so it’s not much of a commitment.

And let’s face it, Elite is a very tough act to follow.

I am tired again this morning, but this is entirely due to the insomnia as opposed to anything else; I am trying a cup of coffee this morning (after which I am going to have some Pedialyte) and it’s not sitting well with me; it’s kind of stuffy and sticky in the Lost Apartment this morning, and that’s certainly not helping any. I have to run errands after I get off work this afternoon–I have packages waiting at the postal service, and I need to stop at the grocery store for a few things as well–and so I am hoping today will be a productive one. There’s a million emails to sort and answer–and I really need to find my to-do list from before I relapsed into whatever this was the last two weeks and make a new one.

Every day I’m juggling.

And now back to the spice mines. Have a lovely day, Constant Reader.

Escape

Friday and the first work “week” of the new year is coming to an end. This week has been kind of crazy from start to finish–a lot of stuff got crammed into the last three days, believe you me–and starting off-balance to begin with (result of the weird work weeks of the last two weeks with the extended weekends) wasn’t a good thing. I think I am getting everything back in balance, and I am really hoping I’ll be back on top of things and my usual Gregalicious self soon.

I’ve been off-balance now for quite some time; a lot of it has to do with the day job move and its aftermath and after-effects. Add in a trip to Kentucky, the holidays, and the Great Data Disaster of 2018; there’s your recipe for an off-balance Gregalicious. But I managed to get some things done, I managed to get some work done on the books, and now I am going to try to get myself settled back into the new normal.

So, of course last night was a shitty night’s sleep and this morning i feel like crap. My sinuses are also acting up (thank you, cool damp weather!), and I had gone to bed with high hopes of powering through today and getting caught up and getting a handle on the things I don’t feel like I have a handle on–which is everything. I need to get organized, make a list of what I need to get down with notes on how to get them done, and take control.

But I don’t feel good.

Ah, it’s only forty-eight degrees outside at the moment; which is why it feels so cold in the Lost Apartment and probably part of the reason why I don’t feel so hot. I’ve also had a toothache most of the week.

I’ve been watching this interesting series on Prime called Great Greek Myths, and every single episode I think this is not how I remember this myth! But of course, Greek mythology had to be sanitized in order to be taught to children! The gods of Olympus were always petty, even in the sanitized versions, but wow–the way the myths are told on this show–they are even more petty than I would have ever dreamed. Also, this show goes into more detail about homosexual relationships amongst the gods, particularly with beautiful human males, which makes it even more interesting for me.

But hopefully I can get everything done today that I need to get done by powering through it all, and maybe even get a good night’s sleep tonight. There’s a lot I want to get done on this first football-free weekend of the year…and without football to distract me from everything else I should be okay.

And on that note, I’m going to get some more coffee and head back down into the spice mines.

198922_100357216839065_672095647_n

Throwing It All Away

Well, the insomnia came back last night. I can’t complain, because while I am mentally fatigued this morning I don’t feel physically tired. Hopefully, sweet sleep will return tonight with a vengeance. I have a short day today; only five or so hours later on today at the office. I had wanted to get a lot done this morning, but the energy levels are kind of low at the moment. Heavy sigh. Maybe I can do a short grocery run or something; I don’t have to be at the office until two thirty.

Or I could curl up in my easy chair and read. Choices.

I have successfully frittered away most of July and got little to nothing finished. This is kind of normal, as I realized this morning as I started to mournfully beat myself up over it. I finished a book manuscript at the tail end of June; of course I’ve not been motivated this month to work on anything else or write very much; it happens every time. And it’s not like I haven’t been very creative this month; I have. I don’t think there’s anything I can actually come out at the moment and say that I’ve actually written this month, besides revising “This Thing of Darkness,” which is shaping up nicely methinks; there’s probably some other things I’ve written this month that I cannot recall this morning, and that’s fine. I think I can finish “A Whisper from the Graveyard” if I can just figure out how I want it to end; I;’m doing some basic research and its coming along nicely.

I’ve also been thinking about the Scotty book and getting ideas and writing them down, which is enormously helpful. Hurray for that, right?

And the endless, endless struggle with the WIP. Seriously. My own personal Vietnam. It will never be finished, it seems. But the revision I am planning is going to be pretty awesome, I think, and will finally make it all click into place for me. Fingers crossed, Constant Reader!

We started watching Castle Rock last night, and it’s disturbing and eerie and interesting, which is exactly what I was hoping for. We’ll continue with the series tonight–I think there are three episodes currently available?–but I am hoping it doesn’t wind up being disappointing.

All right, I should stop delaying and get a move on to the spice mines before the morning completely escapes my grasp.

IMG_2375