Umbrella Man

And just like that, it’s once again Friday. I think over the course of this weekend, things will start to readjust to some semblance of normality again; I will probably, most likely, go into the office on Monday in an effort to readjust and reestablish some sense of being normal–or whatever passes for that–again. I am going to swing over there this morning to drop some things off that I’ve been working on, and just check things out in general. I also have to swing by and get the mail today as well, and I am going to go to the gym for a resurrection of Leg Day after I am finished doing my work today. Yay?

There still has been no trash pick-up in my neighborhood since before Ida, and our cans, with all that ruined food rotting in the early September heat, are beginning to smell quite ripe. There’s still a lot of debris on our sidewalks and along the gutters. Over all, not really much to complain about, and given so many people have lost everything, or have nowhere to live, or are still suffering without power in the heat…it seems like parsing and pinching things in order to find something to complain about. I’d forgotten that aspect of hurricane recovery–that sense of you can’t complain because other people have it far worse than you do rings in your ears every time you start to even slightly feel bad for yourself about your situation, or start the downward spiral of stress and aggravation and frustration. It makes adjusting and mental health integrity that much harder; one of the lessons from Katrina, really–knowing that it’s okay to complain and be frustrated and aggravated at the situation, while still recognizing your own good fortune (even if it seems like it’s a backhanded gift of a sort).

Last night, Paul and I got caught up on The Other Two, Archer, and Titans. I’m still enjoying the shows–even if the latter two aren’t quite as good as they were earlier in their run–and I think The Other Two is probably one of the better, most undervalued comedies airing on streaming right now. It’s certainly fun watching the gay brother–and the show is touching on comedic aspects of being gay I’ve really not seen covered anywhere else. As I was stripping condoms out of condom packs and doing other, various, “busy work” (it still needs to be done–these things would need to be done if the clinic was open and I was seeing clients three days a week, like pre-Ida) yesterday and watching television (I did watch this week’s Real Housewives of Beverly Hills–I am going to have to devote an entire entry to my reality shows at some point, particularly about how they are slowly starting to lose their appeal to me); although I cannot really remember what else I watched yesterday? Oh yes, some documentaries from the Smithsonian Channel, even if I cannot remember which particular ones, and I also rewatched the Brendan Fraser The Mummy–the original, which I realized I’d never actually seen; I’ve seen the sequel, but never all the way through from start to finish, which I may rectify today.

I am hearing noises from the street that sound like a garbage truck–the only inconvenience we are really experiencing at the moment is the stench of the cans when I walk out to the car–so the return of garbage pick-up would certainly serve as another indication that New Orleans is slowly coming back to what passes for normal around here.

I’m also finding it difficult to want to read again, which is weird. I’ve not written anything since Ida, and I’ve not read anything since we left town to find relief from the heat in Greenville, Alabama. I’m hoping this will change over the course of this weekend, but then…you never know. Maybe I read too much while we didn’t have power and I sprained the reading muscle in my brain. Stranger things have happened, after all. I don’t want to give the impression that I wasn’t enjoying Silvia Moreno-Garcia’s book, because I most definitely was; there’s just something off with the creative side of my brain–reading and writing both have been struck down by whatever this malaise is; but it’s more along the lines of being unsettled and not feeling like I have a strong foundation under my feet–this weird not knowing the day/date thing was very disorienting; and of course, there was all that tightness and tension built up in the muscles of neck, shoulder and back (which, oddly, going to the gym cleared up completely; obviously I am hoping going over there today after work will also be a great experience physically for me). I also still have two blog entries to write about books I read during the outage (Dead Dead Girls, A Letter of Mary) which I hope to get around to this weekend, and maybe–just maybe– I may do some writing. I know, I know, stranger things have happened, but I really need to figure out where I am with things and how much time is left in this year and when the deadlines for things are.

And on that note, tis time for me to head back into the spice mines. Have a lovely Friday, Constant Reader, and I will talk to you soon.

I Really Want to Know You

So, last night I was sitting in my easy chair waiting for Paul to come home–he was quite late; I spent the entire evening debating whether or not to just watch a movie while I waited; I never did and wasted the majority of the evening, so tonight when I finish working I am going to just pick something on TCM and start watching–I got tagged by Nikki Dolson on Twitter. Nikki was congratulating me (and Thomas Pluck) for being listed as “Other Distinguished Mystery and Suspense of 2020” in the back of Best Mystery and Suspense Stories of 2020, edited by Steph Cha and guest edited by Alafair Burke! I stared at my phone screen in disbelief for quite a few minutes, trying to process the enormous thrill and honor two women I greatly admire and respect, not just as authors but as intellects and people, had bestowed upon one Gregalicious. The book won’t be released until October 12th, but I am still agog and aglow with the thrill and shock of almost being included in it–with a gay story, no less, about hidden gay American history. Yes, the story was “The Dreadful Scott Decision” from The Faking of the President, edited by Peter Carlaftes, and ironically, I was just telling a friend the other day about how gracious Peter was about my story, which was utterly and completely different from everyone else’s in the book; everyone else set their story during the President’s incumbency and also set them in the White House. Mine was about James Buchanan, theoretically, but was set in the present day and had nothing in the White House, nothing in Washington, nothing in general–so while my story stood out like a sore thumb from the others, Peter never said a word, never asked me to change anything, never asked me to do anything different. In fact, he was incredibly supportive and encouraging.

Three Rooms Press has always been delightful to work with–I worked with them for Florida Happens, as well–and the entire experience was marvelous.

It’s been a good week for me, career-wise. Not only did this happen (aren’t you glad I am not boring you to tears with my usual “short stories are so hard” and “I have no confidence in writing short stories because of my evil college professor” the way I usually do when something good happens to me with a short story?), but I signed a book contract for a new series on Monday–more on that later–AND I also found out yesterday that an anthology I’d written a story for (completely forgotten) is finally being released this fall as well….looking at the contract, I am due a rather nice and hefty fee for my story as well. So, yeah, this has been a great week for me and my career thus far; and now I get to wait for publishing (or life) to pull the rug out from under me again.

Yesterday was a good day, if weird. I kept thinking it was Thursday (likewise I keep thinking today is Friday), but I made a list of things I wanted to get done yesterday (the micro list) and the good news is I made it through the micro list–but the bad news is I haven’t made the macro list yet. But it’s fine, really. I picked up the mail, dropped off a book I am returning, and then stopped in the Irish Channel to take pictures and get a sense of the part of the neighborhood where I am setting the new series. It was sooooo hot yesterday–I mean, furnace level, and I kept thinking, I’m supposed to be hanging out with Wendy this afternoon and having dinner with Laura and Alison and Wendy later…as I walked around taking pictures and sweating. I also realized as I was doing this that I had pictured the neighborhood differently; my primary memory of it was when my friends Lisa and Carrie rented half a big Victorian on Constance Street back in 1995 (the same house I am using for “Never Kiss a Stranger”, actually) and I realized my memories don’t match because they lived further down town in the Irish Channel. It’s not a big deal that my memories were off–I am not using the exact houses on the block I’ve chosen anyway; the pleasure of fiction–but it was a bit of a surprise and a bit of a reminder that I need to not completely count on my memories and sometimes need to actually go look at the area I am writing about. After I got home from my research trip, I changed and walked to the gym in the heat–and my God, it was hot. I was drenched in sweat when I got to the gym (they’ve started getting the new equipment in) and put myself through a Leg Day (which I am still feeling this morning, to be honest), then walked home. I was drenched in sweat by the time I got back to the Lost Apartment, and was also drained of energy by the heat and the sunshine–so I chose to not work on the book yesterday and start doing clean-up and organization stuff around the Lost Apartment, and I did get a lot done, actually. Today I am not leaving the house (I was thinking about doing the gym again, but it looks just as miserably hot out there today as it was yesterday and it can wait until tomorrow, quite frankly). I have some other errands I have to run tomorrow as well, so I am just going to make a micro list for tomorrow as well. I don’t have to go back to the office until Tuesday, which is nice, but I want to get even further in the revisions of the book today (ideally, finishing it tomorrow so I can let it sit for a day or two before going over it again). I also spent some more time brainstorming the new series last night, which I think I am going to try to make funnier than I originally intended it to be.

And as low as I had been feeling about my current manuscript, I have to say the love my writing has been shown this week has really made me feel much better about it. Writing and publishing is always highs and lows, peaks and valleys; a rollercoaster of sorts, if you will–and I seem to spend most of my time in the lows and the valleys for some reason–probably a mental issue of my own having to do with fearing and mistrusting happiness and joy, probably–so yes, positive reinforcement is as necessary for me as it is rare. And of course, even as I am aglow with happiness and joy over this latest bit of positive reinforcement, that ugly little voice in my head is there, whispering its poison: you’re excited about ALMOST making the final cut? My, how pathetic IS your little career?

I fucking hate that voice, for the record.

But I am not letting it harsh my buzz this morning. I am going to finish this, drink some more coffee, eat something, and then I am going to get to work. The book isn’t going to fix itself, after all, and the Lost Apartment most definitely isn’t going to spend a single second cleaning itself…and Megan Abbott’s book is calling me.

Have a lovely day, Constant Reader!

I Drove All Night

Friday and the first day of my four day weekend! Woo-hoo!

And I got my new computer yesterday–and practically wept for joy once I had it set up (which literally took NO time at all). It’s so fast, the picture quality is stunning (I played the 2019 LSU-Alabama game on it thru Youtube while I did the dishes, and the picture quality is better than my television’s. And yes, that game is one of my main happy places, sue me.) It’s been amazing so far; but I also need to remember to enjoy these it’s amazingly functional and fast days for the inevitable day when the spinning wheel starts showing up again, or programs start freezing or locking up, and the whole hellish Mac computer thing starts all over again.

Today is a Gregalicious day; I had already decided earlier this week that would be what today would be for me. I have a spa appointment at twelve thirty (for a waxing, if you want to know, and sorry about the TMI if you didn’t) but it’s all a part of the new attitude towards celebrating being sixty, and part of my personal wellness journey. There was just something about going to the gym the other night for the rebirth of Leg Day into my life that switched my mindset around, or flipped a switch in my head about working out; maybe it was the tiredness of my legs the last two days around here, which means I am aware of the work my body is doing? While I have been going to the gym and working out fairly regularly since we joined the new gym, it’s not like I’ve been enjoying the workouts, or even had much of a goal going forward with it–more of a I am doing this to be healthier and to try to be in better shape. I’ve not wanted much to mess with my eating habits/diet; I’ve never rearranged the way I eat for weight control, choosing the workout path on its own entirely. Maybe I should do something about my eating habits; trying to eat healthier, or something. I want to lose some fat weight–I had gotten down to 200 but am now back up to 211 again, and i’d rather be around 200, possibly even as low as 190. It’s possible and I am going to work my way up (down?) to that goal. Part of the issue with the working out is that I didn’t have a set goal–before, as I have said, I always planned my goals around peaking at the holidays–Decadence, Halloween, and Carnival–and while I have no intentions of ever running around at those events next to naked again under any circumstances, maybe it’s not a bad idea to use those dates as goal dates…my mind is already wired that way.

We started watching the new season of Titans last night on HBO MAX–I’ve always loved the Titans; they were amongst my favorites in the DC Universe, and Nightwing has always been one of my favorite heroes in that universe–and was surprised/not surprised to see the Joker killing off Jason Todd before the opening credits of Episode One. As I explained to Paul, back in the 1980’s as a publicity gimmick, DC ran a contest about killing off Jason Todd/Robin, fully expecting the readers to vote to keep him alive. They didn’t; and I will be the first to admit I voted for him to die daring DC to actually pull the plug on a major character in the Batman universe; DC called the readers’ bluff and killed off Jason in the now famous “A Death in the Family” story, which was also around the time the Batman stories took their turn toward the truly dark and noir.

Today I am going to, as I said, have a spa appointment. I also have to pick up another box of Scooter’s insulin syringes and get the mail. Obviously, I am trying to figure out the most efficient way to do the errands, as always, and think I’ll start with the spa day and go further afield uptown from there before coming home and spending some time with The Other Black GIrl. I also need to head to the gym at some point today, preferably before five (when it starts getting crowded again) and I will probably spend a goodly amount of time playing with my new computer, which is always a fun way to spend time. I’m going to spend the rest of this morning probably cleaning out my email inbox, as well as doing some other neatening/straightening up around my office area; I don’t have to be at my spa appointment until twelve thirty. I would like to get phô today, but with the gym and the protein shake I may have to put off the phô until tomorrow, alas.

I’m also going to possibly–just possibly–do a little bit of writing work today–I know, that’s not a Gregalicious Day Off thing, but I do need to get that short story revision typed up, and I also need to get my notes for the revision of #shedeservedit typed up, and I should probably spend the weekend going over that manuscript and making corrections to be input while I am on vacation in two weeks in order to get it all finished by the end of the month.

So, yes, I have a lot of plans for the rest of this month that really need to get done absolutely; and the first thing in order to be certain it’s all going to get done is to make sure that I have a to-do list in place….and so that’s what I am going to do for the majority of the rest of this morning; getting a bit organized. And yes, that does count as a Gregalicious Day Off activity; because it will relieve my mind and help me relax.

And on that note, tis off to the spice mines. Have a lovely Friday the 13th, everyone!

Get On Your Feet

Thursday and we have reached the work-at-home portion of one Gregalicious’ work week; the last workday of the week, in fact, since the agency is closing tomorrow and Monday to give us a lovely little treat of a holiday. Huzzah! Huzzah for a long weekend! Huzzah for a long weekend I have to spend revising my next manuscript! Oh, wait a minute…that’s not a huzzah, is it?

YES IT IS BECAUSE IT’LL BE FUN!

I’m actually looking forward to finishing the edits on this thing, to be honest with you. I wrote the first draft in July of 2015; in fact, wrote 97,000 words in thirty-one days–and really, over the years of adapting and changing and revising, not a whole let changed–character names, the time when the story takes place, some minor things here and there–and most of the problems reported back to me from my editor result from those changes; changes from first person to third and back again; past tense to present tense to past again; etc. etc. etc. There are also some other minor changes and tweaks that need to be made as well–and yes, it will be time consuming and perhaps a bit tiresome, but it will be absolutely delightful to write finis to this story at long last.

I do want to get some more chapters of Chlorine finished this month as well; although I am scheduling September to be my “finish first draft of Chlorine” month; hopefully I will stay on schedule and get that done; it would be awesome to get like the first fifty pages or so polished and out to agents in October, wouldn’t it? Why yes, yes it would.

Fingers crossed, right?

I also had an odd sort of epiphany last night–yesterday afternoon, really–about turning sixty in (gulp) eight days. I wasn’t really sure, honestly, how to feel about it? I don’t care about being old, or even older; I have mentioned before that sixty was affecting me in some ways I couldn’t explain, and didn’t understand fully–which has led me to think more about this birthday than I have any other I’ve experienced previously. I’ve never seen the point of celebrating birthdays, honestly; you did nothing to be born–that was your parents–and celebrating another year was essentially, the way I saw it, simply an acknowledgement that you’ve survived another year, and why would you celebrate something that really, just kind of happened as a result of mostly happy accidents and not being in the wrong place at the wrong time? But the survived part kind of stuck in my head yesterday as I was thinking about it, and that got my mind going another way. I have, indeed, simply survived for almost sixty years–and that really is something. I never thought I would last this long–certainly not during the plague years, where I always assumed it was simply a matter of time before I got infected and died horribly–but the very fact that I did make it through the plague years is something, after all. And as I thought more about all the friends and loved ones and strangers I’ll never know about who didn’t get to live to be sixty, I realized I needed to celebrate and embrace this birthday if for no other reason than to do so for those who didn’t get to make it this far.

So….I decided I want that marvelous deep dish Chicago-style pizza from That’s Amore in Metairie for my birthday. I made an appointment for some Greg-care on Friday at a spa on Magazine Street. I decided to go ahead and buy a new computer; why am I suffering with this seven-year-old that is just limping along and wastes so much time with the spinning wheels of death? I put in a vacation request for my birthday. And so what if I pamper myself a little bit? Why shouldn’t I?

And last night was the return of the dreaded LEG DAY, and you know what? It wasn’t so awful. Granted, I just did three sets of the leg exercises I had already been doing, then added one set of four new exercises with a light weight–but I also need to get my legs used to being pushed again, and it actually felt quite marvelous, to be honest. I stretched after lifting weights, and so my legs feel nice and tired today, but not achy. I am going to run to the office in a little bit to drop off boxes of condom packs and Scooter’s used insulin syringes (lovely how I have a job where syringe disposal is an option), and then it’s back home to get some data entry done and more condom packs made. Later, even though it’s a terrible time to head out to Metairie to the Apple Store, I am going to do that tonight and get my new computer so it’s all set up and ready to operate over the course of this lovely four day work weekend that is currently looming–the thought of spending most of tomorrow curled up with The Other Black Girl is so simply marvelous I can hardly stand it, really–and then I can spend the next three days writing and revising and cleaning and organizing and doing what I usually do on a weekend…although I also have Monday to go along with it.

Huzzah!

And on that note, tis off to the spice mines with me for today. You have a lovely day, Constant Reader.

Turn the Beat Around

Tuesday morning, came with no warning, of what was to beeeeeeeeeeeeee…

Heh, heh, couldn’t resist riffing on “Monday Monday”; I personally prefer Mondays to Tuesdays, always, quite frankly. Although as far as Mondays go, yesterday wasn’t a bad one. We had our usual flash flood warning/severe weather watch yesterday afternoon; and it did pour for a while, but by the time I got off work and drove home it was all over. Paul was working on a grant last night so i sat in my chair with the cat purring in my lap while I …didn’t really do much of anything. I cleaned the kitchen when I got home, wrote in my journal for a while, and watched some stuff on Youtube before we watched Hulu’s new show about life on an Oklahoma Native American reservation, Reservation Dogs, which was interesting. I wasn’t quite sure about the tone they were going for–it seemed like it was a comedy but perhaps a bit of a dark one? We’ll watch some more–the young Native actors were all appealing, and it’s an America I certainly have never seen before, or know much about (much to my own shame), but it was also nice to see a show about Natives written and produced and starring Natives–something pretty far overdue in American culture, to say the least.

College football looms, with all of its stadium super-spreader potential (sadly), and I am curious to see how this LSU team is going to do this year. Texas and Oklahoma have officially joined the SEC, effective 2025–so we have four years left of the SEC in its current iteration. I understand why the expansions have happened and why they feel they are necessary, but (and with no offense intended whatsoever to any of these schools) but it’s still hard for me to wrap my mind around Arkansas, Missouri, Texas A&M, and South Carolina as SEC schools, let alone this latest addition of Texas and Oklahoma. Who knows what college football is going to look like in 2025? it will be interesting….if I live that long.

But I only have two more days of my work week left after today–yay for the long weekend they gave us–and next week will also be a shorter week. As my birthday is looming on the horizon, I am trying to slowly treat myself to things as little birthday gifts for myself; I scheduled an indulgence for myself this Friday–and I am also planning on getting phô at long last this Friday as well–and I think Friday might just be my Greg does nothing day this weekend. I have errands to run; Vietnamese noodles to get; and of course my indulgence. I may wind up spending the rest of that day just reading and kicking back around the house, saving the writing for the rest of the weekend. I have to get serious work on #shedeservedit at least underway that weekend, hoping to finish during the Bouchercon vacation week I now have (it’s so weird, I have all this time off from work around my birthday, but the birthday itself remains a work day–but taking the day off from work seemed a bit extreme given how much other time off I have this month, and Labor Day is also looming on the horizon) because I had promised to have it finished by the end of the month. It’s definitely do-able, don’t get me wrong–it’s just going to be a lot of work along the way.

Which is fine. Right now it seems intimidating, but every project seems intimidating before you start on it.

I don’t even want to think about how many projects I have in some form of development at the moment. Seriously. If it weren’t for the fact that ADHD medication wires you–which could affect my sleep–I’d seriously consider going on some. There’s another couple of them, in fact, that were sort of in suspended animation for awhile that are also going to be kicking into gear this fall….which could change my planned writing schedule for the rest of the year, so I am going to have to take a long hard look at everything and reconfigure and plan and so forth. Heavy heaving sigh. But this is a good thing, and it means that there will also be lots of writing and so forth to get done next year as well.

Running out of ideas and projects is never going to be an issue for me.

I am hoping to make it to the gym tonight for the first official Leg Day in a long time; I’m not going to overdue it (I do need to be able to walk tomorrow and climb stairs, etc.) but introducing new exercises is never an issue as long as it is done properly, and I think it’ll be easier to squeeze in a Leg Day in the evenings than it is to do upper body; everyone is always doing upper body (which explains their legs, LOL–YES I WILL ALWAYS SHAME PEOPLE WHO SKIP LEG DAY) it seems, which is part of the reason I decided to break the workout in two to begin with. By the end of the year I am hoping to have it to the point where each workout is specific: arms and shoulders; legs; chest and back, and that’s when the real changes to my shape will actually start to develop.

Of course, I could also start eating healthier…..HA HA HA HA. It had to be said, in fairness.

And on that note, I am going to dive headfirst into my Tuesday. Have a great day, Constant Reader, and I will check in with you again tomorrow.