White Horse

Monday and another week has begun.

Christmas draws ever closer; but it doesn’t seem quite real. No holidays have actually seemed real this year, and this is going to continue, methinks, deep into 2021. No Carnival parades, no in-person literary events all spring (Saints and Sinners, Tennessee Williams Festival, Edgars, probably no Malice Domestic or Left Coast Crime) and even summer is questionable. Heavy heaving sigh.

Yesterday was lovely. The Saints hung on to beat the hated Falcons in Atlanta, which was nice, and I spent some time with The Spy Who Came In From The Cold. I’m not as in to it as I would have hoped, but I suspect once the story kicks into gear that will change. It’s exceptionally well written–I can see why it won so many awards, and LeCarre is held in such high esteem–and of course, there’s that whole disconnect with the Cold War. Can you believe there are people in their early thirties now who have no memory of the Cold War? The USSR officially collapsed and began breaking up, and the Berlin Wall came done, about thirty years ago. There are, for that matter, kids in high school who weren’t born yet when 9/11 happened; tweens are too young to remember Hurricane Katrina and the flooding of New Orleans directly after. That’s kind of staggering, in many ways, to imagine that seminal life-changing paradigm shifting events occurred so long ago that the young of today aren’t old enough to remember. I, of course, don’t remember the JFK assassination–I was only two when it happened–so I myself was too young for some seminal, life-changing, paradigm shifting moments myself.

We finished the new season of Big Mouth last night–it’s so funny and filthy and brutally honest about the awful age when you go through puberty (it’s a wonder more people aren’t horribly scarred)–and we also caught the finale of Murder on Middle Beach, which ended without a resolution. I looked at Paul–the episode pretty much closed with the documentarian winning his Freedom of Information lawsuit to gain access to the ten year old police files about his mother’s murder–and said, “Um, I think they finished the documentary too soon–what did they find out?” This was annoying in some ways–but I also didn’t expect the series to solve the murder, either. It was like an incredibly unsatisfying crime novel–a murder divides a family, the kids grow up and try to solve their mother’s murder which has aversely affected their lives, only to have the book close without resolution?

Not nearly as disappointing an end as The Undoing, frankly–we’ll go a long time before we see another series that ends so badly and disappointingly as that.

But now we have to find something new to watch, heavy sigh.

I didn’t write this weekend nearly as much as I should have, but I reread all my notes from the entire writing process, and reread the final fourteen chapters, so I have an idea where I need to go and what I need to do from now on, so that’s a win, methinks. I also went over the copy edits on an essay, and got that finished. I also went to the gym yesterday, which was lovely. My body seems to be adjusting to exercising again–and it’s starting to respond to it. My muscles are getting firm again, and starting to get bigger again. I suspect this is going to wind up being yet another repeat of every other time I’ve gotten into the swing of working out my entire life–I am never going to feel sufficiently lean, will always think I’m carrying too much fat weight, etc etc etc ad nauseum ad finitum, and I am preparing myself for that particular neuroses. Plus, I am sixty–time to let go of the extreme vanity and the need for reassurance from other people.

I’ve also had some second thoughts about Bury Me in Shadows, but they are quite literally the same ones I’ve had almost this entire time since I started writing the damned thing. I spent most of the weekend in the weeds on this book–rereading chapters, rereading notes, looking at things I’ve deleted, trying to figure out if I am doing a good job telling this story or if I’m being too lecturing in places…I don’t think I can remember the last time I’s second guessed and doubted myself as much on a book as I have with this one. But that’s, I hope, a good thing? We shall see. I can’t wait to see the final cover.

And on that note, it is back to the spice mines with me. Have a lovely Monday.

The Outside

And the vacation is over and it’s back to work this morning. Huzzah?

As I mentioned, I didn’t get nearly as much done as I had hoped over the vacation, but that always happens. I got back into the writing of the book, and that’s really the most important thing to me; I was beginning to think I was just going to keep blowing it off and then wake one morning and realize fuck it’s due next week and I haven’t done a fucking thing.

You know, like I always do.

But I made some good progress on the book; I started a couple of new short stories (whether they will amount to anything is a completely different subject, of course); I got a lot of rest, and I also managed to get some cabinets cleaned out and organized. Looking back, of course, it feels like I didn’t get an awful lot done and I am not entirely certain where all the time actually went–but I am counting the week as a win and will not give it to my tendency to be negative about myself, which is far too often my default.

I did finish reading Night of Camp David yesterday, and it’s timeliness was a bit astonishing, really; the concept of a president having a mental breakdown and being extremely paranoid is something I’ve seen at least twice in my lifetime, and hope to never see again. I started rereading William March’s classic The Bad Seed yesterday as well–I read it originally a very long time ago–when I was a teenager, I think; I checked it out of the library, as I recall–and I don’t really remember as much of it as I would like. I suspect most of my memories of the story are from the film, frankly.

We finished watching The Undoing last night, and I wasn’t terribly pleased with how it ended; it was an interesting episode, but it didn’t feel earned…no spoilers, of course, but I felt the ending was a bit of a cheat for those who’d watched the entire time, and too much was left unanswered, I felt. Your mileage might vary, of course. Overall we enjoyed it–the performances were great–but we were disappointed with the final episode, is all. We also watched another episode of Murder on Middle Beach, which was interesting–some new added twists and suspects mixed into it last night, and there’s only one more episode. I suspect the mystery of who actual committed the murder isn’t going to be solved in the final episode, but I do hope the young man making the documentary (about his mother’s murder) gets some kind of closure here, otherwise I am not sure what the point of the documentary was, other than the true-crime craze we seem to be experiencing right now in popular culture.

It’s very cold in New Orleans this morning–right now it’s forty-nine degrees, and not getting warmer today. The forecast for the week is abysmal–forties at night, sixties during the day–which is going to make getting up early and going to work a pain in the butt, as I am not a big fan of the cold under any circumstances.

And on that note, I need to start getting ready to head into the office. Have a lovely Monday, Constant Reader.

Tell Me Why

Monday on a vacation week isn’t nearly as brutal or as unpleasant as it is on a normal work week. Ordinarily I am up and out of bed at six in the morning every Monday; today I was able to be a slug-a-bed until around eight, which is when I generally begin the waking process when I do not have to go into the office. One week from today when I am getting up at six again I shall look back on the glory of this halcyon morning and will, as I shut off my alarm and blearily open my eyes, undoubtedly will wish I were still on vacation.

The Saints won yesterday–Taysom Hill played really well for his first start and first full game as quarterback—which was quite delightful. It was more delightful that they were playing the Falcons. The Saints have now won like seven straight games, which is great, but many of them were squeakers, so while I think it’s great, I’m not so gung-ho about the play-offs as one might expect. But 8-2 is much better than I was expecting for them at this point in the season, so I am going to happily take it.

I did manage to reread the first ten chapters of Bury Me In Shadows yesterday; it was necessary because it’s been so long since I’ve worked on it I couldn’t remember where I was at or what was going on. I found a lot of errors (and even more egregious examples of terrible writing), and I am going to spend some time today on fixing those. I also did an outline as I went, which I am going to continue to update as I work my way through the book, and I am feeling a lot more confident about making that due date than I was just yesterday. I just need to focus and keep writing and keep fixing. I need to thoroughly immerse myself in the book, and I think I can do that this week. (As I started making the outline and listing the character names at the beginning, I literally could not remember the main character’s name. That’s how long it has been since I’ve even looked at this; which is rather disgraceful, but also telling about my mental state, my brain, and my memory.)

I also managed to work on “The Rosary of Broken Promises” yesterday morning before diving back into the book. I have no idea where this story is going or what’s going to be about, but it’s in my head and it’s worrying me, like how you always worry a loose tooth with your tongue. I keep thinking about the story, even when I’m not writing it. It’s shaping up to be vastly different than anything I’ve ever done before, and while I am not entirely sure it will be publishable anywhere–the problem with short stories: at some point, you have to think about reshaping them to fit markets, or they sit dormant in your files until the proper submission call rolls around. It’s interesting, isn’t it, how self-destructive my creativity can be? I mean, I have two submissions calls I want to write a short story for, the timelines and deadlines for both are tight, so what do I write? A story that doesn’t fit either call.

We watched the new episodes of both The Undoing and Murder on Middle Beach last night, and another episode of Le Manti. All three are quite good, and we’re enjoying them tremendously. There’s only one more episode left of The Undoing, in which we will find the answers; I don’t see how they could stretch this into a second season, but I also thought the same with Big Little Lies, and they did a second season of that, so anything is possible these days–which is kind of cool but at the same time, sad.

I have a lot of work and other things to get done today. My back is still aching–not sure what it is, quite frankly, and am getting rather tired of it–but I am also going to the gym later this morning and hopefully that won’t affect it too negatively. It’s very weird; I should probably get it looked at, but if it’s just muscle strain I’d feel like an idiot, and rightly so. So at some point today I need to use my back massage roller thingee, and while it will inevitably tighten back up later, I should probably start thinking about stretching it/using the massage roller every day.

And on that note, the spice isn’t going to mine itself. Have a lovely Monday before the holidays, Constant Reader.

American Girl

Hello work-at-home Thursday, how are you doing?

I’m starting to get used to the loss of the trees, but it isn’t even so much the loss of the green, leafy view or the increased light that bothers me the most about the loss of the crepe myrtles. I’ve realized that, despite the fact that the trees didn’t completely shield the house next door or its carriage house from view, they provided enough of a shield for me to feel like I had privacy while I was sitting at my desk. I could see the upstairs windows next doors, but not clearly; it was more of a vague awareness that they were there. Now I can see into them–not that much, really, because of the angle–which of course means anyone standing in those windows or looking out of them can also look directly down at me at my desk, writing or cleaning or reading or whatever the hell it is I do there when I sit there.

And that I do not like one bit.

So, yes, I’m going to have to invest in blinds, I suppose. I can just use them for the upper half of the windows–the lower half doesn’t really need covering, to shield them from either the sun or the next door upstairs neighbors. Am I happy about it? Not in the least. But it has to be done, or next summer is going to be les miserables in the kitchen. It gets too hot in there as it is, and I’m probably also going to have to invest in more portable air conditioners as well. Heavy heaving sigh.

So, apparently a sexual assault scandal is currently looming over the LSU football program, tracing back to Derrius Guice–who was recently dropped by whatever team had drafted him into the NFL after he was arrested for domestic violence–horrifying stuff, really–which revealed that he’d been accused twice of rape while he was a student at LSU and allegedly the school and athletic department covered it up. This was during the time the wretched Joe Alleva was the athletic director there, and given that he was responsible for the insanity and disaster that the the Duke lacrosse team sexual assault scandal, it doesn’t surprise me in the least. The fact LSU hired him. with that scandal on his resume, remains a mystery to me. I may be a loyal Tiger fan who bleeds purple and gold, but this needs to be thoroughly investigated and there needs to be accountability. This kind of shit doesn’t belong anywhere in college, let alone in college athletics, and the covering up of bad behavior by star athletes by colleges and professional sports needs to stop, period.

Seriously, enough of this boys will be boys bullshit. Boys who get away with shit because they’re boys become men who think they can get away with shit, and this becomes a societal problem.

I am really tired of sex crimes involving college sports, frankly–or any sport, for that matter.

And now I am thinking I should write a book about college sports and a sex crime, because of course I am.

I could, of course, call it Boys Will Be Boys.

Hmmmm some more.

My back is a little sore this week, I’m not sure if it’s from the gym and working out–I noticed it yesterday, when I woke up, and went to the gym anyway, so this morning it’s a little worse–but it’s not an injury injury; this is just intense muscle soreness, so I’ll be using the heating pad this afternoon as I make condom packs. It did feel lovely going to the gym after work yesterday and working out–I’m really getting back into this–and we started watching Murder on Middle Beach last night on HBO; a documentary series this young filmmaker did about his mother’s brutal murder, which was weird; both oddly intimate and deeply personal, and incredibly sad at the same time. I couldn’t imagine dealing with my mom being murdered, and then writing a true crime book about it, but then, who knows? It’s an interesting premise for a true crime documentary, but one that begs the question of objectivity; how can you be objective when you’re so deeply personally involved with almost everyone you’ll be talking to, interviewing, and filming? And–God help me–I did think to myself, well, someone making a documentary series about their mother’s murder is also a great book premise, isn’t it?

I also took the time last night after the gym, as I waited for Paul to come home, to read two more stories from Lawrence Block’s anthology The Darkling Halls of Ivy. The theme of the anthology is, of course, crimes in academia; the first story, by none other than Rambo creator David Morrell–whom I’ve met and is a very nice man–was quite good. The next two stories in the book were by authors I’d not read before, Jane Hamilton and Warren Moore. (Moore has had stories in other Block anthologies I’ve read; I’ve not read any of his novels, is what I meant here.) I’d heard of Ms. Hamilton before; she’s a quite critically acclaimed literary novelists, and best known to me as the author of The Short History of a Prince. Both stories were interesting. Ms. Hamilton’s was built around an advanced creative writing course in a small, failing liberal arts college, while Moore’s was built around the end of an academic conference–with a recently defended, new Ph. D. trying to find a job in academia giving a ride to a long tenured leader in their field, and what the young man thinks about as they talk about careers in academia, with the bitter reality of the younger man’s existence in sharp contrast to the comfortable established existence the older man has achieved. Hamilton’s story, “Writing Maeve Dubinsky,” doesn’t really seem like a crime story–the actual crime is a very small one, not even a misdemeanor, although it deeply affects the lives of the characters of the story (imagine coming to your writing class and discovering that one of your classmates had stolen your journal and written a story about your relationship)–the best part of the story was I remembered in exquisite detail the agony of workshopping one of your stories in a classroom setting–and also put me in mind of thinking about other stories for me to write. The Moore story, “Alt-Ac” (the title refers to Ph.D’s who have to find jobs outside of academia: “alternate to academic”) was also astonishingly dark and bitter about the diploma mill modern colleges have become, saddling students with massive amounts of debt they can never repay while giving them degrees that are essentially useless when it comes to finding work in the real world, particularly since there are so few jobs in academia and there are fewer of those jobs all of the time (seriously, the fact that Katrina came along and finished off any thoughts I had about pursuing further education and possibly teaching on the collegiate level was quite a gift to me, and one I never truly appreciated until lately), but it was also incredibly spot on.

I do find it interesting that in all the talk about student debt and so forth, no one ever talks about revamping or overhauling our higher education system–or improving it; that system is just as rotten and outdated as other societal institutions that need overhauling and repair.

And on that note, tis back to the spice mines with me. Have a lovely day, Constant Reader!