Forever and Ever Amen

Yesterday afternoon I got sucker-punched; there I was, having a good day and getting things done and then–WHAM! Right between the eyes–Southwest sent me a reminder email about my scheduled and ticketed trip to New York for the Edgars at the end of April. The 30th, to be exact, but because of the symposium and other duties, I was going to be flying up there on the 28th, hence the reminder email. It didn’t help that the email reminded me that today would have been the closing for TWFest/S&S, and I got teary-eyed and sad and overwhelmed and had to get off the computer and away from the world for a little while.

It was out of the blue–I’ve said this before and it’s my own advice to other people (“remember something unexpected will happen–a tweet, a Facebook post, an email–that will catch you off guard and trigger something internal”) but it’s still rough when it happens, and it did, in fact, derail the rest of my day; there was no writing accomplished yesterday, and I didn’t really do much of anything afterwards, other than binge a few more episodes of Ozark (greatly enjoying this third season; the performances are stellar, particularly Laura Linney and Julia Garner) and then went to bed early. I slept fairly well, and this morning I feel even, but man–was that ever rough yesterday or what?

This week I have to go to work at 8:15 at our other building (campus?) every morning before leaving around noon to head to our other building (campus?) on Elysian Fields for the afternoon shift. Adapting to what is essential a 9-to-5 life isn’t going to be easy for me; it’s something I’ve managed to avoid my entire life until age fifty-eight, although I have to confess (as I said the other day) there really is something to eight hours five days a week. I like getting home earlier than I usually do (around eight), and I just have to  adjust to having those early evenings free. Hurricane season is coming, and so is termite swarm season and the time when stinging caterpillars rain down from the live oak trees like something out of C-level horror film from the 1950’s–usually the second bill on a drive-in double feature; you know the kind of film I mean–and then comes the heat and humidity of the summer. It’s already hotter this year than it usually is at this time of the year; I can only imagine how truly unbearable July and August are going to be this summer. There are but two days left in this hellish March, and then it’s April. (And I do hope nobody is foolish enough to play pranks on April Fool’s Day…)

I’ve decided since my attention span is so limited that it’s time to go back to both the Short Story Project (which I’ve been doing these last few weeks, really) as well as the Reread Project. I had considered rereading Mary Stewart’s This Rough Magic next, since I don’t really remember much of it at all, but have decided to reread one of my all time favorites, and definitely my favorite ghost story of all time, Ammie Come Home by Barbara Michaels. It’s been awhile since I read it, and it was, of course, the first novel by Michaels I read. I had originally watched the Made for TV movie that was based on it (The House That Wouldn’t Die, starring none other than the magnificent Miss Barbara Stanwyck), and then later found it in a volume of Reader’s Digest Condensed Books (remember those?) about a year or so later at my grandmother’s. I eventually bought a used paperback copy when I was either fifteen or sixteen and read the full novel, and it’s been a favorite of mine ever since. (In those days, I preferred her work as Barbara Michaels–it wasn’t until years later that I really got into her novels under the name Elizabeth Peters, and there was no turning back from that moment.)

I have a lot of emails in my inbox to answer–remember, I was in a flurry of responding to emails when I got the reminder from Southwest that derailed my entire day yesterday–as well as to sort and file. I’ve absolutely got to get back on that horse and dive into my emails headfirst today, and I’ve got to generate some others and consolidate all my notes and create an overall to-do list. My primary concern with so many seemingly endless tasks is that I am going to forget something important; I need to get my equilibrium back–hopefully getting used to my next work schedule will be helpful in that regard–and I need to get better organized.

I always seem to be saying that, don’t I?

Hmmmmm.

But the sun is rising and the world is gray outside my windows, and it’s about time for me to head into the spice mines. Stay safe, everyone, and have a lovely day.

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The Gambler

New York!

It’s been far too long since I’ve been to New York; five years maybe? If not longer? MY memory, as I am prone to say with some regularity, has become a sieve and I can no longer remember how long ago something was unless there’s an event I can specifically tie something to–“Oh, that was the year of Toronto Bouchercon”, et al–so I don’t know. I think it’s been four-ish, at the very least. It’s also been more than twenty years since I flew into LaGuardia Airport–primarily because it’s the more difficult airport in the area to get into Manhattan from; back when I served on the Mystery Writers of America board before, I always flew into Newark because I knew how to get to Grand Central from there quite easily.

And to my New York friends, I do apologize if I wasn’t able to see you; I knew it was short trip, it was for business, and almost every minute of every day was accounted for–plus, I had my usual issue with sleeping in a different bed than my own.

And of course, the night I finally was able to sleep was the last night there. Naturally. But at least I wasn’t so tired on my travel-home day that I just wanted to curl up in a ball somewhere and cry. I was also able to get some reading done while I traveled; on the way up I finished The Talented Mr. Ripley, started Blanche on the Lam, which I finished on the flights home (I had to connect through St. Louis), and once I finished reading that, I was able to start reading Elizabeth Little’s new (and amazing) Pretty as a Picture, which I am going to carve some time out for today, hopefully; it’s really good.

And as always, whenever I travel to something that’s writing related, I get inspired. Just being around other writers, talking about writing and books we’ve read and like…it always flips that switch in my head. Going to New York–and I am aware of how weird this is going to sound–always makes me feel like I’m a writer. When I was a kid, I used to sit in my room and read, and then daydream about being all grown up and a writer and going to New York. As I was flying home yesterday (seriously, I had to connect through St. Louis) I was pulling my journal out of my bag and making notes on ideas and thoughts and so forth. I’ve been wanting to write a flight attendant noir story for a while now, and the opening line came to me last night on the second leg of the trip: One truth about travel that no airline will ever admit to is that there is absolutely no way anyone can get comfortable in a coach–er, economy–class seat.

And of course, over the course of the weekend I was elected Executive Vice-President of the Mystery Writers of America Board of Directors, which is an amazingly awesome-sounding title which translates into “a lot of work.” But you know–I missed being on the Board of Directors and all the work, despite the occasional frustrations. And the free time I got once I cycled off? It didn’t turn into more time to write and focus on my writing career. I’ve also come to realize I am more productive, and do more, when I have more to do–that’s just how sick I am.  When I have a lot to do I make a list and remain focused and disciplined….and given how undisciplined I’ve been over the last few years…so, yeah. I am sure I’ll be whining soon enough—I know myself better than anyone else does–but I thrive better under pressure and with more to get done.

It’s a sickness.

And now, back to the spice mines. There will be more to come–I want to write and talk about both The Talented Mr. Ripley and Blanche on the Lam, most definitely, but for now I need to spend the day getting caught up on my life and things around here and maybe–just maybe–get back to work on some of my own writing.

Happy Martin Luther King Jr. Day, Constant Reader!

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Walking After Midnight

Here I am, up at the crack of dawn–well, not really, but earlier than I usually get up on a Thursday–so I can catch a flight to New York later this morning. And I think I packed the clothes I intended to wear on the plane this morning–which is fine. Not particularly smart, but I’ve been running on accessory all week as it is, so it’s not particularly surprising, either.

I also woke up well before my alarm this morning, too. Not sure what that’s all about, but there you have it.

Today is also my first time flying out of the new terminal at Armstrong, so that’s also kind of exciting.

I am taking probably too many books with me on this trip: The Talented Mr, Ripley; Blanche on the Lam by Barbara Neely; Pretty as a Picture by Elizabeth Little; and Dread Journey by Dorothy B. Hughes. I’ll probably finish Ripley at the airport and get started on the Neely on the plane. I hope to have some free down time periodically in order to do some work on my secret project; but knowing how these trips usually go that’s most likely never going to happen. But hope springs eternal and all that nonsense.

Last night didn’t do much of anything once I got home. I packed and spent the evening in my easy chair, watching videos on Youtube–clips and analysis of the LSU game on Monday, as well as discussions on whether or not this team is one of the best of all time. It’s kind of hard to argue against it, really; given the teams they beat and how they beat them. The last three games of the season were against Number 4 Georgia (37-10); Number 4 Oklahoma (63-28), and Number 3 Clemson (42-25). They beat everyone in the preseason top 4 (Clemson, Alabama, Oklahoma, Georgia). Excluding the LSU losses, those three times they beat at the end of the season totaled 2 losses total; add Alabama into the mix and that would be three; adding Florida would make it 4.

Sorry, I know I tend to run on and on about this LSU team, but damn, they were amazing.

But I’ll be glad when this trip is over and I get home Sunday evening. I have Monday off–Martin Luther King Jr Day–and so I can relax and recover and get some things done before I return to work on Tuesday. Traveling has become more and more of a chore the older I get; I always wonder if getting older has just made me crankier, or if traveling has, indeed, gotten terrible. I suspect it’s a combination of the two–less patience and more stupidity and inefficiency. But I do love New York; I never feel more like a writer then I do when I am in New York; probably because as a child New York was the nexus for authors–and certainly in every book I read that had a writer as a character, that was certainly the case; everything from You Can’t Go Home Again to Youngblood Hawke to Peyton Place, for that matter; and of course the crown jewel, Rona Jaffe’s The Best of Everything. And I will be there this afternoon! It’s not that I mind trips–it’s the getting there, the actual travel, I’ve come to loathe–from getting to the airport to the check-in process to security to the seemingly endless wait at the gate; the gathering of luggage and transporting one’s self to the final destination.

And on that note, tis time to hop in the shower and make my final preparations for the departure. Have a lovely day, Constant Reader!

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I’ve Always Been Crazy

Yesterday was rough. I was so tired all day, but somehow I managed to power through it all–God only knows how. It wound up not being that bad of a day, to be honest–although I kind of just drifted through the day and don’t really remember a whole lot of it, if I’m being completely honest.

But I am still so damned proud of the LSU Tigers. National champions, again. Just amazing, absolutely amazing. What an amazing season, what a fabulous joy ride for us LSU fans. This team will be remembered forever, just like the 1958 national champions are still talked about today. The entire season was a non-stop highlight reel.

Carnival this year is going to be lit.

And now it’s back to reality–although none of that feels quite real yet.

Tomorrow morning I leave for a short weekend in New York; I return to New Orleans on Sunday, and of course Monday is a holiday so I have a day to relax and recalibrate and recover from what is certain to be an exhausting trip; New York always wears me out. I’ll be busy the entire time–it’s a business trip–so making time to see friends isn’t really going to work out this trip; but I should be returning in late April/early May and maybe that trip I’ll be able to see and hang out with friends–I know so many people in New York it’s scary; I could go up for weeks and not see everyone.

But I slept really well last night–I was exhausted, so no real surprise there–and feel rested enough this morning to be able to focus and get back on the get-shit-done train. I need to swing by this morning and get the mail on my way to the office, and I should be getting started packing this morning, as well as cleaning the kitchen. I’ll have to leave for the airport tomorrow morning around eight–flight is at eleven, and have to account for traffic and shuttle from the parking lot to the terminal, so I won’t really have time tomorrow morning to do much more than drink some coffee and shower.  I need to make some headway on a new secret project–which I am focusing on to the exclusion of all other writing, at least for now, and I hope to have it all finished by next week so I can get back to finishing Bury Me in Shadows–and I am taking The Talented Mr. Ripley with me to read, along with Blanche on the Lam by newly minted MWA Grand Master Barbara Neely, and Pretty as a Picture, the new Elizabeth Little novel, which I have in ARC form. I may take one more book with me–just to be on the safe side, since reading is my favorite way to spend time in airports and on airplanes.

And hopefully, this trip will kick my ass into gear when it comes to reading. My reading has fallen off dramatically since I read for the Edgars in 2018–judging almost always, inevitably, burns me out from reading and it takes me a while to get back up to reading for pleasure again (having said that, though, I read some absolutely amazing books in 2019). I don’t think I’m going to judge again–it’s very time consuming, for one, and you don’t really get the chance to enjoy and savor the books the way I prefer; I intend to go back and reread the five books we selected as finalists and winner at some point, so I can enjoy them as reads rather than reading them critically, with an eye to selecting the best; the five books we selected were all fantastic, so they deserve to be read with an eye for enjoyment. Reading for an award also throws me terribly behind on my pleasure reading–I am now perhaps three or four books behind on my Donna Andrews reading, and this shall not stand! It always sucks to get behind on your pleasure reading because new books are coming out all the time and that makes it harder to get caught up and then you end up with a 2 or 300 hundred book TBR list and–

Yikes.

Not to mention how far behind I’ve allowed myself to get with my writing. But my weekends are free now–football is over and so I have no excuses any more for not getting a lot of writing or editing or reading or all three done every weekend anymore. We’ll probably watch LSU Gymnastics every Friday night–and of course, figure skating season is kicking into gear again too–but for the most part, there’s no reason why I can’t get back to work on the weekend as well as getting my fat old ass back into the gym regularly either; I intend to return to the gym on Monday and start slowly whipping this tired, flabby, sagging body back into some kind of shape again. People have been asking my lately if I’ve lost weight–I didn’t think I had, and I weighed myself yesterday to discover that I have not, in fact, lost even a pound since the last time I weighed myself. I’m not so concerned about losing weight, to be honest, this time around; I’ve come to accept 212 as the weight I am doomed to carry on my frame for the rest of my life, but I can at least trim some of the excess body fat off and get the muscles firmed up again.

I also have a short story I need to get written. I really need to make a list, don’t I?

And on that note, I am heading back into the spice mines for the rest of the morning before I head back into the office. Have a lovely Wednesday, Constant Reader!

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Love Rollercoaster

Oh, Game of Thrones. What a lovely, lovely episode last night. I think I cried two or three times…and then of course, as it slowly began to dawn on me that we are getting all this closure because so many of my favorite characters are going to mostly likely die next week.

Gah. And of course, I cannot wait.

Game of Thrones, for all of its problematic scenes and subplots (remember Jamie raping Cersei over the corpse of their dead son?), has been such an incredibly enjoyable ride since that first episode all those many years ago; when the royal party marched into Winterfell and all the pieces on the chessboard were put into place (mostly by Littlefinger, as we were to gradually find out over the years) I had absolutely no clue nor idea how this wild, crazy, polyglot quilt of a story with layers and levels and still more layers was going to play out. We’ve watched the children–Bran, Sansa, Arya–grow from children into young adults. The character development and story arcs they came from all carefully done and planned; who would have ever thought that, as I watched Jamie push Bran out the window at the end of episode one, that he would become one of my favorite characters? Or that Theon’s betrayal of the Starks would lead to his unending humiliations and finally, despite his mutilation, becoming a man and a true knight of the north? Spoiled, silly Sansa becoming the smartest woman in Westeros?

Next week is going to be deeply, deeply emotional for those of us who watch and love the show. Paul and I came to the show late; back in the day, we got the DISCS from Netflix; as we caught up on the show we eventually decided it was worth paying for HBO in order to watch as it aired live; I think this might have been Season Three; we’d just finished watching Season 2 and decided we couldn’t wait until it was released to Netflix…and despite the shocks and heartbreaks, it’s been quite a ride. I finally read the first book in the series over Thanksgiving last year; I think I may read the second over Thanksgiving this year; perhaps it will become a holiday treat for myself each year.

Although there are still only four books.

Yesterday was a good day; I didn’t feel particularly motivated to do any writing–it’s amazing how easy it is to talk myself out of writing–but I am just getting warmed up again these days and should soon be back in the saddle again, writing every day and creating. I managed to get myself organized yesterday, and we also watched Crazy Rich Asians on HBO in the late afternoon, and enjoyed the hell out of it. I have some thoughts about this movie as well, but I want to let them percolate for a day or so before talking about it. But I enjoyed the movie very much, even cried a bit in places, and loved see romantic comedy tropes turned on their ears while being used. I also read some more of Alison Gaylin’s superb Never Look Back, which is shaping up to be her best novel thus far….which is saying quite a bit (she’s been nominated for the Edgar four times). I also have sort of figured out all the things I need to get done this week–I even made a list–and I organized computer files. I cleaned the kitchen and went to the grocery store. I filed and made notes and over all had a highly productive, if non-writing, day. It was a lovely three day weekend and I do feel rested this Monday morning, even though I would much prefer to have remained in bed.

Paul leaves early Wednesday morning for New York; he’s being honored by the Publishing Triangle so he is heading up there for the ceremony on Thursday and flying back here on Saturday afternoon, so I will have the Lost Apartment to myself for a few days. Hopefully I can use that time to get more things done and more organized and maybe even clean the upstairs? Madness, I know, but…we shall see. Scooter will be his usual needy self but at least I only have to work half-days both Thursday and Friday.

Huzzah?

And now back to the spice mines. Happy Monday, all.


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