She’s Gone

This is my one thousandth post on this blog, which means I’ve been here on WordPress for almost three full years; it seems like I moved here from Livejournal just yesterday. But then again, it’s also hard for me to fathom that I’ve been keeping a blog for almost fifteen years.

That’s a lot of blogging, you know?

Later today we are having brunch at a friend’s, which means I have to leave the house. It’ll be fun–I love these friends and don’t see them frequently enough–so I am hoping to get some writing done this morning before it’s time to go. (I know all too well that the odds of me doing anything once I come home are negligible; yesterday I didn’t write at all after I got home from my errands–the heat and humidity are back, which makes going outside an exhausting, draining experience. I don’t know how people who work outside survive the summers here. Whatever they are paid, it isn’t enough.)

I did do some cleaning and filing and organizing yesterday; a lot of it involved cleaning out computer files and getting rid of duplicates, of which there are absurd amounts. But being able to look for things easily, and knowing where they are, is a big first step in being organized and saving time. (It is amazing how I can justify not writing, isn’t it?) Part of this is because I have too many files, and they are slowing down my computer. So in a way this was a help for me to get work done by speeding up the computer, and of course i hoard things and make sure I have back-ups and so forth, which means I end up, a lot of the time, with multiple copies of multiple files.

Does that, I suppose, make me an e-hoarder?

I also managed to clean the ceiling fans in the kitchen, which was no small feat, quite frankly.

We did finish watching the second season of Killing Eve last night, and seriously, what a terrific show! Sandra Oh is, of course, fantastic, but Jodie Comer is equally strong and brilliant as assassin Villanelle; absolutely fantastic. I also continued watching Good Omens, which I am enjoying–the two leads are terrific–and it is more whimsical and clever than Gaiman’s American Gods series, which is bleak and dark.

Hopefully this morning I can get some things done, and who knows? Maybe after we get home I can get some things done too. One never knows.

Also, Leah Chase, of Dooky Chase’s Restaurant fame, died yesterday at the age of ninety-six. A class act, a gracious lady, and a humanitarian, Miss Leah was a fixture and a local icon for decades, and she will be sorely missed. RIP, Miss Leah, and thank you.

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Be Tender With My Love

Saturday morning, and how is your weekend so far, Constant Reader? Mine is going just fine, thank you for asking–you’re always so thoughtful.

I woke up early this morning–I’d just planned on sleeping until I woke up, and boom! There I was wide awake at seven thirty this morning, so I just rolled with it and got out of bed and decided to start the day.  Yesterday afternoon was kind of lovely; as I said yesterday I spent the afternoon backing up devices, cleaning, doing the laundry, that sort of thing, while trying to cleanse my mind and prepare myself for the next chapter of the WIP. There’s also still some cleaning and straightening up to do, and later I have to go pick up a book at Garden District and my prescriptions from CVS. After that I intend to come home and read or write or clean for the rest of the day.

I started watching Good Omens last night, and rather enjoyed it. Paul didn’t care for it, so it’s something I’ll have to watch on my own, and then we watched another episode of Killing Eve, which has gone into a whole new level. I daresay this second season is even better than the first? The primary thing I love about this show is it constantly surprises me; I never have the slightest clue which direction the story is going to go next, which I absolutely love. There’s nothing better than a completely unpredictable show, you know? This is why I loved Game of Thrones and Dead to Me so much; why I continue to enjoy How to Get Away with Murder, which no longer even makes any logical sense, but is just a wonderfully over-the-top campy soap opera now. (I am also aware that a lot of people have stopped watching Murder for that very reason; but I’ve always enjoyed soaps so I don’t have a problem with it–I also remember that Melrose Place became a lot more fun once it stopped trying to be realistic and went full-on over-the-top)

I also want to work on a couple of proposals this weekend, and I’d love to send some more of my short stories out into the world. I have a couple that I think might be ready to go out; but it’s difficult, as I’ve said before, since my short stories tend to be crime stories that aren’t necessarily mysteries. Writing a mystery short story is incredibly difficult, of course; I’ve tried it a few times and I’m not certain I had any success with it. But I do think there may be some stories I have on hand that might be ready to be sent out into the world, and the worst thing that could happen would be they say no, right? And no doesn’t mean I suck, of course, it just means the story wasn’t right for that particular medium.

It’s also Pride Month, today being the first day of it, and lately I’ve been seeing (and sharing some of the) posts about the history of Pride, or “pictures from this city’s pride in this year” and one of the things that strikes me as I look at photos from pride celebrations in the 70’s or 80’s or 90’s is how overwhelmingly white and male the pictures are; which is kind of a sobering thought. Where are the gays of color, where are the lesbians, where are the transpeople? One of the problems we have as a community is that we are a microcosm of the society at large; so the queer community comes with its own racial/misogynist baggage carried over from the bigger society. And while progress has been made in the right direction within our community, we do still have a long way to go.

I often doubt, as I am wont to do about anything to do with me being a writer, my ability to tell stories about race, misogyny, and homophobia well; without being preachy, without being over the top, without making out those who believe in those things cardboard cutout villains with no redeeming qualities. Can a racist or a sexist or a homophobe have any good qualities? And therein lies the rub. No matter how much of a good person someone with any of all of those qualities might be, I don’t think their good qualities can outweigh the bad ones, quite frankly. “I’m glad you rescue dogs. Unfortunately, your commitment to the belief that (fill in the blank) are secondary citizens not entitled to full and equal protection under the law negates the good you do.”

Ava DuVarnay’s seminal mini-series about the Central Park 5, When They See Us, has been released and is apparently wrenching. I know I need to watch it, but I am resistant to it because I know it’s going to expose some horrific things, and from everything I’ve seen or heard it is a wrenching experience. But I do think it’s important, and not watching would serve to only make me even more complicit in systemic racism; I consider this to be yet another step in my ongoing re-education on the subject of race in America.

I’m also hearing good things about Chernobyl, which Paul also doesn’t want to watch.

And now back to the spice mines.

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Getaway

Friday morning, and I survived not only going out to Metairie yesterday for my eye exam, but driving back into New Orleans from Metairie during rush hour. It wasn’t that bad, actually, but if I had to do that every day–well, let’s just say there would be a body count and leave it there, shall we?

Yesterday I also managed to finish Chapter Thirteen; only got slightly over 900 words done, but it’s hard for me to start a new chapter when I know I’m not going to finish it in one sitting, you know? That’s how I  generally like to mark my daily progress; a chapter a day, and it unsettles me when I leave a chapter unfinished overnight. I think so far this has been about a 7000 word week (maybe more, I don’t remember when I wrote Chapter 11; but if it was this week I passed the 10k mark. Huzzah!); and today when I leave the office I am going to get the mail and stop to make groceries–just a few things–before heading home to clean and hopefully get some writing done. I’d also like to get some more reading done; I am enjoying Black Diamond Fall so am hoping to have some more time to read it this weekend.

And whoa, boy, is this season of Killing Eve amazing! Seriously, binge it, people.

Well, here it is five o’clock this afternoon and I never finished this entry this morning before work, did I? I actually even forgot I was writing it until I just now saw the tab open. Not sure what that says about either my attention span or my short term memory, but there you have it.

The weather has turned hot here in New Orleans, so much so that I am seriously considering getting my car windows tinted. Is it just me, or has the sun gotten brighter and hotter; or am I simply more sensitive to it now that I am older? These and other questions plague me constantly these days. The air is also humid, so heavy you can almost feel yourself moving through it. The river is also really high, and there’s still more flooding up the river basin that has to make its way down here. As we enter hurricane season, these things are always in the back of my head.

But I got the mail and made groceries on my way home, and I’ve been doing the bed linens and cleaning odds and ends while my mind roams and wanders. I need a nice day of cleaning to clear my head of noise and refocus on the WIP. Chapter Thirteen ended with a lovely twist, but now I have to figure out how to deal with the fall out from that twist; a way that makes sense for my characters without coming off as either preachy or contrived or unearned or melodramatic–it’s a very fine line.

But I am glad I came across this; so that I can finish and post.

Back to the spice mines for me, and I’ll check in with you tomorrow, Constant Reader.

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Still the One

I know it makes me a bad person, but I can’t help but giggle to myself as more and more of former congressman/homophobe closet case Aaron Schock’s nudes (stills and videos) surface. On the one hand, he is a very good looking guy with a great body who clearly takes care of himself–eating right and exercise–but on the other…he did (or tried to do) as much damage to LGBTQ+ Americans as he could while in pursuit of a political career.

Contrast that with Mayor Pete, and you can see why the schadenfreude is kind of delicious.

I mean, seriously. Vote against the LGBTQ+ community your entire career in Congress, lose your career because you essentially stole campaign funds to bring your boyfriend with you on official travel and to redecorate your office, never come out ever, and then move to WeHo and get on every hook-up app imaginable, along with nude stills and videos–and then not think gays who know who you are will circulate them and share them on the Internet to mock and publicly embarrass/humiliate you?

Dude, seriously? You might as well do a gay porn movie and collect a big check at this point–because someone would pay you a fortune to do one.

Yesterday was a pretty good day, writing wise. I managed over two thousand words, which was kind of bitchin’, especially since when I opened the document for Chapter Twelve I literally had no idea what Chapter Twelve was going to be about. I didn’t finish the chapter, but I know how to finish it, so I should be able to get that done today as well as move on to Chapter Thirteen, which is very cool. I am looking forward to working on it more over the weekend, as well.

We finished watching Fosse/Verdon last night, and seriously–just go ahead and give every award there is for television performances to Michelle Williams already. It is a testament to how good Williams is that Sam Rockwell’s stellar performance alongside her as Bob Fosse doesn’t stand out as much–and both are giving Oscar-worthy performances. I’m sorry the show has ended, but now we can devote ourselves to Killing Eve, and Animal Kingdom has returned for its fourth season; Archer is also back for its final season. So, just as Game of Thrones and Veep end (forever), some of our other shows have returned to fill the void left behind.

I’ve not managed to get very far into Black Diamond Fall, between the writing and the television viewing, but I am about two chapters in and really liking it. Joseph Olshan is a good writer, obviously, and I am hopeful this weekend I’ll be able to get more of it read.

I can’t believe it’s almost June. Mary Mother of God. Where has this year gone already? Next thing you know it’ll be football season and then it’s Thanksgiving and then Christmas and BOOM, it’s 2020. Twenty fucking twenty. Yeesh.

I had some thoughts also last night about an essay I want to write about friendship that’s been brewing in my mind for a long while; partly triggered by an on-line conversation with a friend I hadn’t talked to in several years. It was lovely catching up, of course–it always is–and I love that I have so many friends I can go a long time without communicating with and then pick right back up where we left off before like no time has passed. I always feel like I’m a terrible friend–I am, as regular readers know, terribly self-absorbed and self-involved, and I own that, thank you very much–and honestly, have never really understood the concept; I either overdo it and put too much energy into it, or I don’t put any energy into it at all; neither is a recipe for lasting relationships. But I do have friends I’ve known for decades, people that are still in my life, even if remotely. So I guess that’s something, I suppose.

I’m being creative again, which is quite lovely, honestly. It’s about time, but I am enjoying writing again, and I am doing it again, which is nice. I always worry it’s going to go away, that the well is going to go dry sometime–especially when I have to force myself to do it, which is most of the time. But it’s still there, it still comes when I need it to, and I am pretty darned pleased about it. The dream of being a writer is what got me through some lean and terrible times in my life…

And on that sobering note, ’tis back to the spice mines.

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Let ‘Em In

Ah, back to reality.

At least it’s only a four-day work week, which is something, I suppose. I know I make it sound like I hate my job–I really don’t, I love my job and I love what I do, I just wish I could be part time instead of full-time. Staycations are lovely, but they remind me how much I would rather stay home and clean and read and write all day instead.

Wouldn’t that be nice? I would imagine all of my colleagues think the same way. The vast majority of us have day jobs, because we need a steady source of income to pay bills, buy groceries, and pay the rent. The health insurance is also nice; I did without it from 1995 to 2007, and trust me, it’s better having it, no matter how much I loathe insurance companies; no matter how much I wish they would all go bankrupt; no matter how criminal so many of them are and how they would let someone die if they believed they could get away with it.

I also have pre-existing conditions, which makes the merry-go-round spin even faster.

Ah, well. Tis life, after all, and what is life if not one challenge after another?

I managed to write some yesterday, which was lovely. I revised Chapter 11 of the WIP–which isn’t exactly what I’d planned to do, but I’ll take it–and managed about 1300 words or so in total, which isn’t bad. The day started off with my computer not functioning properly–freezing up and the spinning rainbow wheel of death constantly popping up on my screen, until finally I got fed up and restarted the damned thing–although it took about forty minutes to get to that point. It then restarted, and was running slow still–irritating–before finally starting to behave itself, thank you Baby Jesus. So annoying, but by the time it finally starting working properly I was so annoyed that I was determined to make up for the lost time and actually do some writing–it’s not too difficult to imagine I would have gotten distracted and not written anything, so there’s that.

We binged the first four episodes of season two of Killing Eve last night, and it’s even better than the first season. An enormous relief, because quite frankly I didn’t see how or where the show could go after the first season, and I was very worried it might go completely insane and over-the-top, a la How to Get Away with Murder (which we still watch, primarily for the camp factor).

That, and Viola Davis, who is fantastic in everything she does.

So, I am hoping to make some headway on things this week. Last night while I was watching Killing Eve it finally dawned on me how to get the next couple of chapters of the WIP done–we are in the dreaded second act, which is always the hard part for me, because I always fear I am stretching the story out for the sake of length rather than telling the story–but the nice thing about watching or reading something well written is that it always provides inspiration of a sort for me, which is most helpful.

We’ll see, I suppose, how much of this I will get done.

And now back to the spice mines.

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Summer

Memorial Day, and I woke up early. Last night wasn’t a deep sleep, but rather a nice restful one that involved some occasional waking from time to time. My eyes are kind of blurry and burning this morning as well–probably not as well rested as the rest of my body feels.

Yesterday was a nice day. I chose to take the day off from writing yesterday and just read–although I have to admit it wasn’t really much of a choice: I decided to spend an hour reading Rachel Howzell Hall’s They All Fall Down, only to not be able to stop reading it until I was finished. It’s quite a book, frankly; I’ll talk more about it in its own blog entry, perhaps even later today. I then started reading Joseph Olshan’s Black Diamond Fall, which is also extremely well written; but the opening reminded me a lot of the opening of Sara J. Henry’s A Cold and Lonely Place, which is one of my favorite books of the decade, quite frankly–do yourself a favor and read it, if you haven’t already. I’m probably going to do some more reading this morning before I embark on the rest of my day–I still have cleaning and straightening up to do, and there’s always more writing that needs to be done–but this four-day weekend has been absolutely lovely. I only have a four day work week as a result–one long day, one normal day, then two short–and then it’s again the weekend, which will be rather lovely. I’ll probably turn the 4th of July into a long weekend as well, which will also be lovely.

We watched the Game of Thrones documentary last night, The Last Watch, and while it was interesting and informative, there were places where it dragged a bit; the problem was scope, at least for me; the show was simply too big to condense a “behind the scenes” documentary into slightly less than two hours. But it did fill the enormous hole in my Sunday evening that the ending of the show has left; I hate the idea there won’t be any more Game of Thrones. We came to the show late, of course; everyone was already talking about it and it was already winning Emmys when Paul and I started watching it all those years ago, with discs from Netflix delivered in the mail; I believe it was Season Three where I finally broke down and started paying for HBO so we could watch the show as it aired on Sunday evenings. I’m still processing this final season, and while I can understand the disappointment a lot of fans had with it, it also kind of worked for me–and I also would like to remind people, it could have been much, much worse. I was glad that the traditional story-telling tropes the show never followed it continued to deny right up to the very end; I mean, wasn’t the show building to Jon Snow killing the Night King and winding up seated on the Iron Throne as the last male Targaryen heir? It certainly looked that way, and I couldn’t really see any other ending. The show constantly surprised and angered us all over the years by consistently doing the unexpected, as the books do as well.

The enormous disappointment and hard feelings held by so many fans kind of tells me the show did its job properly; we were so vested in the characters that not having the expected endings for them embittered so many.

We’ve saved the second season of Killing Eve for a binge tonight; which is why I want to get all of the things done I want to get done today done early. So, once I have finished writing this and answering some emails, I am going to make myself another cup of coffee and adjourn to my easy chair and the Olshan novel, which I will read for a little while before getting up and cleaning the windows. After I clean the windows I am going to try to get some writing done; probably working on the outline for the rest of the WIP, some more work on another project, and I think I am going to dig out “Never Kiss a Stranger” and do some more work on it. I want to send some stories out for submission this week, so I’m going to need to spend some time reading and polishing those stories today as well. Yes, yes, so much to do, and sitting here isn’t getting it done, either.

So, it’s off to mine spice for me. Have a lovely day, everyone.

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Baby Face

Sunday of Memorial Day weekend, and I am feeling well rested and lively and energetic and all of that. I always forget how important it is for me to take these mini-breaks, to keep my sanity and recharge my batteries. I woke up just before eight this morning–I stayed up later than I’d planned, but the latest version of Halloween was available to stream on HBO and we didn’t discover it until after nine last night, so my plans of going to bed regularly between ten-thirty and eleven were all for naught. There’s condensation on my windows this morning, which means it’s humid as fuck outside; I’d planned on lugging the ladder outside and cleaning the windows this morning–which I still may do, mind you, I haven’t ruled it out–in addition to some other cleaning.

Yesterday was quite lovely, and I realized, yet again, how my ideal life would be that of a stay-at-home writer; it’s lovely to get up, check emails, bounce around social media a bit, then clean and organize around writing. I finished the laundry room yesterday, with the baseboards and everything in there, and progressed into the kitchen/office area. I did the lower windows on the inside, moved the file cabinet to clean behind it, and reorganized things around my desk. There’s still some debris piled up on the counter that needs to be sorted and filed away properly; that’s a chore for this morning with my coffee, methinks, along with the dirty dishes in the sink. I’m also taking the pictures down and wiping the dust off them; New Orleans is the dustiest place I’ve ever lived, and it’s a constant battle. I was going to be a feather-duster yesterday but they didn’t have any at Rouse’s, which was, as you can imagine, a horrible disappointment to me. I also couldn’t believe I didn’t have one to begin with; I searched high and low for it yesterday morning, certain there was one somewhere….and then I remembered…you have a cat. Skittle destroyed your feather duster years ago, and you saw no point in buying another as long as you still have a cat.

Fortunately, Scooter is not nearly as vicious a hunter/destroyer of worlds the way Satan’s Kitty was, so I think I might be able to get away with having one again.

It’s the little things, you know, that truly make me happy.

I also worked yesterday, shocking as it may seem; little as I wanted to, of course, I still managed to sit down and work. I read the rest of “The Snow Globe” all the way through, and realized I needed to add another scene to it–it ends too abruptly for the new end I have in mind, and so I have to reread the entire thing from beginning to end. I always aim for my short stories to come in around five thousand words as an ideal length (which I also realize is quite silly; it comes from editing anthologies and thinking “twenty stories of five thousand words each is a hundred thousand words and voila, anthology is finished!) and it’s subconscious. The story is now at about just over 4800 words, and there’s no way to add this sequence in only 200 or so words and so I pulled back from the story. This morning, in the cold harsh bright light of a new day, I realized so fucking what if it winds up over five thousand? You can actually make it SIX thousand if you fucking want to. So, I’ll probably be revisiting that as well.

I took a look at Chapter Eleven of the WIP as well; realizing that starting it one week and finishing it the next without rereading what was already done resulted in some repetition of things; yesterday I chose not to deal with it, and instead did some background work. I pulled up the outline, that only went through Chapter Five, and added the next six chapters to the outline, intending to outline the next five as well so as to have something to fall back on without having to create it out of thin air. But I sincerely (not lazily) couldn’t figure out what to do in the next five chapters and so I put it aside as well and worked on something else–something else that I’ve been asked to do and has been hovering in the back of my subconscious creative brain while I struggle to finish this first draft. I am not ready to talk about it completely and openly just yet–still far too nascent for any public commentary/discussion–but I started doing the background work necessary, and realized what I’d been thinking of doing was probably the wrong place to start, and I actually thought of the proper place to start, so I was busily making notes and writing things down and actually creating, which is always kind of fun. I’m probably–we’ll see–going to try to get Chapter Eleven straightened out today, and will work on this new thing for a bit, and I’d also like to work on another story I’ve got hanging around unfinished. If I can get all this writing–and cleaning–done today, tomorrow I may reward myself just a little bit by allowing myself some down time to read–in fact, this morning, I am going to read for a little while before tackling the dishes; I find reading is also a lovely way to wake up the mind, and I really do want to get deeper into Rachel Howzell Hall’s They All Fall Down, which is quite superbly written.

We did watch the newest Halloween last night, and it was quite enjoyable. I love the concept that Carpenter basically threw away everything already filmed as canonical sequels to the original, and simply pretended none of those films had ever happened; instead making a straight-up sequel/reboot of the series; I’m not really sure what you would call this film in terms of the rest of the Michael Myers canon. But it was clear Halloween H20 or whatever it was called never happened; in this world Laurie had a daughter, not a son, and we find Laurie Strode in straight-up Sarah Connor in Terminator 2 mode; someone who has spent her entire life preparing herself for when he comes back to  kill her–and there’s no doubt in her mind that he’s going to, eventually. The trauma of the murders when she was a teenager has damaged her, certainly, and has definitely affected the relationship with her daughter, son-in-law, and granddaughter, and she lives in a secure fortress (think Sydney in Scream 3), which also makes sense. I couldn’t help but think as I watched how much better this all would work as a novel; as we could actually get inside the heads of certain point-of-view characters, and how Laurie’s residual trauma has affected/damaged them–wouldn’t that novel, from the point of view of all three women, each a different generation with a different outlook and experience with the trauma, be absolutely fascinating?

I’ve become a lot more interested, I think, as a reader and as a writer, in the aftermath of trauma–how precisely does one deal with that kind of trauma, and what does it do to you as a person, how does it affect the rest of your life and your relationships, etc.  As a writer, I’m becoming less interested in the solving of a crime rather than the actual aftershocks created by the crime; as well as the motivations behind the crime–what drives the criminal to commit the crime in the first place? I think the reason Murder in the Rue Chartres is often considered my best work is because it deals with trauma; the trauma of a  damaged and destroyed city after a major natural disaster, as well as the trauma of getting past the murder of someone you loved.

So, that’s the plan for today, at any rate. Tomorrow I hope to spend the day doing a deep clean of the living room and the staircase, done around the writing and reading I need to get done, and then hopefully we’ll start getting caught up on Killing Eve.

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

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