That Made Me Stronger

Monday morning has rolled around again, and this morning I had to get up ridiculously early to go have blood drawn for my biannual check-up–I find it easier to just get up early, brush my teeth, wash my face, and throw on some clothes to run down there before eating or drinking anything (must fast before bloodwork; therein lies the rub) before rushing out to the car where my travel mug rests with my first cup of coffee in it. That first swallow of coffee is always so blissful once the three vials of blood have been taken from my arm.

I finished all the copy edits of the Bouchercon anthology in order to get it turned in (late) last evening; that was quite an experience–but it’s a great anthology. There are some terrific stories from writers you know and writers you may not have heard of yet, but you’ll be delighted to make their acquaintance here. I am hoping to get the page proofs this week so I can get that out of the way–after I finish work tonight I have to finish the proofing for Streetcar–and am feeling a bit weird this morning that it’s now August. (Nineteen shopping days left before my birthday, Constant Reader, so make a note of that, okay?) I also did laundry and dishes yesterday; went over that story one last time and decided to bite the bullet and submit it anyway–if it’s offensive or tone deaf, they won’t use it, after all; ordered groceries on line to be picked up tomorrow night after work; and did some more cleaning around here. I also finished reading Sandra SG Wong’s In the Dark We Forget, which I greatly enjoyed and already blogged about, and started reading Curtis Ippolito’s Burying the Newspaper Man at long last. I’ve also picked up some more books to read along the way somehow, and more are coming that were preordered.

I will never finish reading everything I want to read, just like I will never write everything I want to write.

I did get some writing done over the weekend, though–all this proofing and copy editing and so forth haven’t exactly made it the easiest thing to do, seriously–and I have to get the edits/revisions done on another story that’s been accepted; it’s being edited as a google doc, which I don’t have a lot of experience with and so I am not sure what I am looking at, which is always fun; I hate being technologically challenged on a regular basis–whenever I get used to something like “track changes” in Word, now we have a new way of doing this I have to learn! Hurray! Because, after all, all I have is time to learn how to use new technology when I haven’t completely grasped the old yet. Heavy heaving sigh. AH, well, this evening after the data entry is completed I will see if I can figure it all out. It’s a good story, and I am excited to have sold it….but it also reminds me (when I was looking at the submissions spreadsheet last night, so I could update the story submission from yesterday, and add the others from this year I’ve not recorded yet) how few short stories I’ve been sending out lately. I’ve only sent out three stories this year–two have sold, the other went yesterday–and it irritates me to know that I’ve once again let something slide that I wanted to prioritize this year. And of course now I have exactly three months to write the Scotty book. Heavy heaving sigh. I need to get my shit together, don’t I?

I am also getting trained tomorrow on how to administer the monkeypox vaccine; my department head messaged me over the weekend about my schedule for Tuesday so I can get trained. I am assuming this means we are getting some of the vaccine* in for my clients; since I spend most of the week working in the clinic with appointments every hour I can’t see how I can work vaccinating in other departments or areas of the clinic (I work in the STI clinic for men who have sex with other men and trans individuals; which is just one small piece of our overall massive public health clinic), but who knows? I was a little taken aback to be told I was getting this training–I am not any kind of medical professional, I am merely certified by the state to do rapid antibody tests for HIV, syphilis, and hepatitis C; I turn them over to the nurse for everything else–but I guess anyone can give someone a shot if they know how, and obviously, this isn’t an intravenous shot but one that probably goes into the upper shoulder. I’m not a huge fan of getting shots–I loathe needles–let alone giving them; but…doing fingersticks to draw pipettes of blood to do the antibody tests got me over my dislike and distaste for blood, so this is a really good way to get me over my intensely visceral dislike of needles and shots. I can’t imagine it’s a lot more complicated than doing a fingerstick, really; just a matter of prepping the needle and then using the plunger once the skin has been pierced by the sharp end of the hypodermic. And who knows? Learning how to administer a vaccination might be something that could come in handy for my writing someday.

We also watched the new Neil Patrick Harris show, Uncoupled, on Netflix last night. In it, Harris plays Michael, a gay realtor in New York City whose partner of seventeen years (Tuc Watkins) decides out of the clear blue to leave him, moving out on his fiftieth birthday without any forewarning (Harris thinks they’ve been robbed), and the rest of the season shows him trying to adapt to being single again, dating again, and trying to get over the hurt and betrayal of the end of a relationship he thought was for life–and his old partner just doesn’t seem to want to have anything to do with him again. It was a very well done depiction of grief and anger and finally acceptance–it’s a shitty situation, and his character can’t see past his own shock, hurt and anger to even wonder what went wrong and why he didn’t see it coming in any way–but eventually he starts coming to terms with everything and starts moving on. It’s done by Darren Star, who also did Sex and the City, and there’s a very Sex and the City vibe to the show–I pointed out how like Carrie the main character was, and we spent the rest of the series deciding who Miranda and Charlotte and Samantha were of his friend group. The best part of the show, though, are the women: Marcia Gay Harden is fantastic as Claire Lewis, a wealthy woman whose husband has also just left her out of the blue, and Tisha Campbell is Emmy worthy as Michael’s business partner and best friend, Samantha. We did enjoy it–though I did have some questions about it, which could make (as always) an interesting essay someday–and are looking forward to the second season.

And on that note, this data ain’t gonna enter itself now is it? I’ll check in with you again tomorrow, Constant Reader.

*If this is, in fact, a general thing Crescent Care will be offering to the general population rather than just our established and current clients, I will of course make announcements on social media, so locals–stay tuned or watch this space or whatever you want to call it.

For What It’s Worth

Amnesia.

I think the first time I ever encountered amnesia as a plot point was in, of all places, Trixie Belden Mystery Number Sixteen, The Mystery of the Missing Heiress. Janey, a young woman who’d been in a car accident and been found wandering aimlessly along Glen Road near the Belden farm, had amnesia–and who she was turned out to be the key to the mystery bedeviling Trixie and the other Bob-Whites.

Amnesia is actually not nearly as common as film and television (especially soaps, where it is one of the handiest tropes at hand, along with evil twins and so on) would make it appear to be, and it’s not as simple as the visual media make it appear. I had to do research on amnesia for Sleeping Angel, and it was very interesting to see how many different types there are, and what causes them–there’s physical trauma to the brain, and then there’s psychological, where something has happened to the person with amnesia that is so traumatic to their very identity that their mind erases it. So, bearing that in mind, I was curious to see how Sandra SG Wong handled the subject in her recent In the Dark We Forget.

I awake with a shiver. Full on, from toes to the tingling roots in my scalp.

Sharp corners dig into my shoulders, down the length of my spine, underneath one set of ribs. My feet twitch. I feel the backs of my shoes slip on something wet

Shoes. Why am I wearing shoes while I sleep?

I push up on my elbows, can’t hold myself up, fall back with a thump onto those sharp corners again. I blink up at a murky sky. My head aches, like I’ve taken a chill. I hear a soft rustling of leaves, a lone chirping bird. My ears are cold. A slight breeze blows grit into my cheek. My eyes widen. Why am I outside?

That sounds like a frigging nightmare, doesn’t it? Imagine waking up somewhere and not only not knowing where you are, but who you are and how you got there. Wong’s main character remembers nothing about herself–her name, where she lives, anything–and is soon found by a charitable passer-by who picks her up and takes her to a local police station, where the mystery around this woman slowly begins to unfold.

The challenge for a writer telling this kind of story is that the reader doesn’t find out anything about the character until the character does herself–which is incredibly hard to do; does the loss of memory affect the person’s personality, their character, who they are themselves? Do they behave differently? What do you do when you start finding out unpleasant things about yourself that you have to face, things you may not want to believe are true?

Wong handles it all with the accomplished skill of a master. We start caring about the character, curious to find out who she is and how this all happened, and Wong keeps the reader on the edge of their seat the entire time. As the truths begin to slowly play out–who she is, what she was involved in, what was going on in her life that somehow wound up with her unconscious in the woods–Wong deftly starts showing us flashes of who the character is, and wisely never gets into the psychological vs physical questions about the amnesia itself. Her main character is also unreliable–not just because of the amnesia, but as we find out ever more about her, and the kind of person she is, we also begin to have to wonder if she’s telling the truth about anything…everything…or something in between.

Beautifully written and dripping with suspense, I greatly enjoyed my first experience with the fiction of Sandra SG Wong, and suspect you will as well, Constant Reader. Get a copy, read it, and thank me later.

Too Far from Texas

I used to think you could never be too far from Texas, in all honesty, despite my deep appreciation and affection not only for Houston (I lived there for a time) but for all my marvelous friends in Texas. Murder by the Book, the only mainstream mystery bookstore that would allow me to have events in their store when I first published, always holds a deep place of affection within my heart and soul; I love that store, and of course, I also love me some Whataburger.

Whataburger alone makes Texas worth visiting, to be honest.

The Chanse MacLeod series was originally going to be set in Houston. I created him, and actually started writing about him, while i lived in Texas from 1989-1991. I remember distinctly that he had an office and a pager, as well as a secretary and an off-hours answering service…clearly, I didn’t understand how private investigators actually worked and was basing everything off movies, books, and television programs. But I do recall the name of the first book was going to be The Body in the Bayou–and Chanse was also straight in his original iteration–and it wasn’t until later (after my birthday visit here in 1994) that I decided to move it to New Orleans, and of course by the time I started rewriting the New Orleans version, I’d discovered gay mysteries and so of course, I changed his sexuality (I’ve never once regretted that either, I might add). I also put The Body in the Bayou aside and started writing a whole new murder mystery for him (Murder in the Rue Dauphine) that eventually became my first published book. Chanse remained from Texas–a small town in east Texas called Cottonwood Wells–and I even wrote a short story where Chanse goes back home to that small town. (I’d always wanted to write a book where he goes back home and has to deal with memories and so forth; I just never got around to it and his original publisher always made the sign of the cross at me whenever I suggested, “hey, should I set the next one in Chanse’s home town, where he has to go to clear up a crime someone from his past is accused of?”) Cottonwood Wells also popped up in earlier drafts of #shedeservedit, as where main character Alex’ family was originally from; that eventually got edited out over the final drafts.

Sunday morning and I slept late, and even after waking, stayed in the bed for a while longer. It felt very comfortable and my body was very relaxed, which was lovely, and I didn’t really want to get out of the bed, to be honest. I made swedish meatballs last night for dinner and left the mess for this morning (I am now cursing lazy Greg last night who made that decision–part of the reason I made this decision was I realized while cooking that the dishwasher had a clean load in it that needed to be put away, and it was a pain in the ass to do while cooking and trying to time everything) and I didn’t really want to come downstairs and face the mess. I did get some cleaning and organizing done yesterday–I did the kitchen floors at long last–and I also worked on the living room some. I wrote about fifteen hundred words yesterday to flex my writing muscles a little bit–I’ll probably go back over them again today as I write more–and I also have to get the proofs for Streetcar significantly finished today. I also want to work on the new Scotty a little bit as well. We’ll see how much I can get done this morning/afternoon before Paul gets up–although he is going to go into the office today; there was a lot of thunderstorms yesterday and street flooding, so he and the IT guy rescheduled for today (can’t say as I blame him, we were in and out of flash flood alerts all day yesterday; the joys of the tropics in the summer) which will free up this afternoon for proofing.

My self-care appointment (okay, it was a back wax; someday I will write an essay about my issues with body hair) went well and after that, I swung by and picked up the mail. On my way back home I stopped at the Fresh Market (I rarely shop there; I always forget it’s there) to get a few things, and while it is more expensive than other places, I like shopping there. The fruit and vegetables always seem much fresher, and rather than buying prepackaged ground sirloin, I instead got it from the butcher counter, remembering suddenly that it’s fresher that way–and those meatballs turned out superlatively. I think in the future I might shop there a little more regularly. They don’t carry everything I would need, of course–that would make life too easy–but for meats and fruit and vegetables…well, it really cannot be beaten. I spent some more time with In the Dark We Forget–which I am also going to do this morning for a bit, it’s really good and I want to find out what happened to Cleo and her parents–for the rest of this morning, and then I need to vacuum the living room at some point (I swept up the floor in there last night as well, and tried to get it to look cleaner and better organized in there as well; it’s amazing what a difference the clean floor makes). So, a busy busy day for one Gregalicious. But that’s fine, I kind of like having things to do…it’s just when I have so much to do the thought of it is soul-crushing and defeating that I don’t like it.

We started watching The Anarchists on HBO MAX last night, and it’s….something, all right. It’s also interesting how these people chose to define “anarchy” as something other than what most people generally accept it as meaning; but they were using the actual definition of anarchy rather than the societal definition. I always laugh at people who think that laws and rules and regulations are things that restrict freedom and are unnecessary in a society; it’s really just another branch of libertarianism or Ayn Rand’s insane “objectivism”–those laws and rules and regulations exist because they were necessary, because human beings tend to always operate by putting their own needs first. Regulations exist because food manufacturers regularly sold bad, or dangerous, food to the general public because there were no regulations and no one keeping them honest; robber barons created monopolies to exploit the public and make themselves rich (Bezos, Musk, etc are simply the modern day version of the robber barons) at the expense of the needy; hence we needed government intervention to prevent abuses. I’ve never understood the mentality of “oh, if we do away with regulations and laws and rules we’ll all live together in peaceful harmony” because there’s always at least ONE asshole in every group.

ALWAYS.

And on that note, I am going to make another cup of coffee, put the clean dishes away, and go read for a bit. Have a lovely Sunday, Constant Reader, and we’ll talk again tomorrow, if not later. (I’ve been going down the Stevie Nicks discography for my titles, and some of them–along with some of them from other song lists I was using before–wind up having the same titles as some of my books, and I’ve decided–see yesterday’s post about Sleeping Angel–that when I have a blog list song title that matches the title of one of my books, I am going to post about the book. Right now, I have Timothy in my stored draft blogs folder, and I think there’s another called “Watching Scotty Grow” in which I am trying to write the history of the series, which could be helpful as I am writing Book Nine at the moment, and since I am doing Stevie’s discography, that means Sara will also be coming up at some point.)

Trouble in Shangri-La

Wednesday morning and out of nowhere, my insomnia returned last night. I am assuming it was an aberration of some sort; too much brain usage yesterday after a long respite or something like that. I don’t feel either sleepy or tired or mentally fatigued or anything this morning, so hopefully I can make it through the day without it being challenging. I also get to leave work early this afternoon because I have a doctor’s appointment. Nothing serious, just the semi-annual check-up/prescription refill once over, and that will get me home much earlier than usual. Maybe I can get some more work done tonight when I get home from work. Stranger things have happened. At the very least, I should be able to get back to reading my book, Sandra SG Wong’s marvelous In the Dark We Forget, which I am enjoying tremendously.

We finished watching Mind Over Murder last night–the final episode finally dropped–and it’s really such a sad story on every level. I don’t know, the more of these documentaries that are made and the more injustices they expose on a far-too-regular basis makes me wonder about the police and the job they are doing. I wouldn’t ever want to be a cop–under any circumstance–but at the same time, yikes. Big time yikes on every level. I mean, as I was watching this last night I was thinking about how in most countries everyone fears the police, who are agents of the state and often above the law…and how this is one of the few countries in the world that celebrates the police, embracing them, when the truth is the Constitution was written to define the rights of citizens to protect us from abuses from agents of the state. There’s some essay forming in my head about this, to be sure.

In other exciting news, I got some ARCS for A Streetcar Named Murder in yesterday’s mail, and the book looks fantastic. I absolutely love the cover, and I appreciate that they drew the cat to resemble Scooter–the cat in the book is also named Scooter, and now that I think about, I think Scotty has a cat named Scooter. That’s me, immortalizing my cat in literature for all time. I am trying to cap my excitement about the book (naturally, I am very excited about it, but trying to rein it in a bit)–and of course, have been having all kinds of Imposter Syndrome thoughts about it not selling and getting bad reviews and so forth–but I am going to just go on being happy right now that the book is finished, for all intents and purposes (still have to proof the pages this weekend) and going to focus on getting the Bouchercon anthology finished as well as getting underway with Mississippi River Mischief. I’m kind of excited to be writing about Scotty again–funny how writing him never feels old to me; I always get a bit happy about going to revisit his world and his circle of family and friends–and writing it also means having to do a bit of travel and research outside of New Orleans, since the book is going to be partially set in a fictitious river or bayou parish. (Which I have cleverly named St. Jeanne d’Arc–although that begs the question of why there isn’t actually a St. Jeanne d’Arc parish in Louisiana…)

A quick glance at my inbox also shows that the edits for my story “Solace in a Dying Hour” have also dropped, so that’s something else to go on the agenda/to-do list for this week. I am really proud of this story, to be honest, and I am really curious to see the edits (one of the co-editors is who I worked with on the Sherlock story “The Affair of the Purloined Rentboy,” and her edits were fucking AMAZING) and see how much more work is needed on the story. I also have until Sunday to decide whether to submit that story I am not sure about anymore to that anthology I wanted to submit it to–that was quite a sentence, wasn’t it?–but I don’t know about it, you know? Although I suppose if it is really horrifically tone deaf and offensive they won’t accept it…but I also don’t want anyone else to read it if it is offensive and tone deaf. Ah, well, I have until the weekend to decide one way or the other.

I also am about half-way finished with getting the copy edits to the contributors to the Bouchercon anthology. I probably won’t get much, if any, of that done today, but stranger things have happened. Maybe when I get home early tonight Scooter won’t be whiny and demanding a lap to fall asleep in…or not.

And on that note, I am heading into the spice mines. Have a lovely Wednesday, Constant Reader, and I will talk to you again tomorrow morning.

Whenever I Call You Friend

And it’s back to the office with me today.

It feels weird, no lie. I haven’t been up this early in quite a while, and I would imagine it’s going to take more than a hot minute for me to get used to it again. I slept well last night, but there’s just something about being jarred out of sleep by an alarm that feels disruptive, and inevitably means I wind up feeling tired/sleepy all day because to my mind, the alarm means I didn’t get enough sleep. I did wake up around two, four, and five, but was able to go back to sleep relatively easily; there was a part of me that thought, when I woke up at five, that I should go ahead and get up. But the bed felt comfortable, the blankets comforting, and I could stay there, relaxed and comfortable, for another hour so I closed my eyes and turned over and went back to sleep. It’s going to be a rough week for sure–getting used to being back at work after being sick so long; I don’t think I’ve ever been out of the office this long for being sick, let alone on vacation or anything else–but soon enough it will be the weekend again, so there’s that.

It must be extremely humid this morning because my sinuses are reacting, so I had to take a Claritin-D to calm that the fuck down. Now that I am gradually coming awake, I feel much better than I did when I first rolled out of bed this morning. Hopefully that will be the case for the rest of the day. It’s going to feel weird being back in the office this morning; and hopefully that weirdness will wear off sooner rather than later. I didn’t get as much done last night after I finished my work-at-home chores for the day, I was a bit tired and my eyes were buggy (data entry has that effect on me) so I retired to my easy chair to do some reading. My mind was wandering and I couldn’t focus on something new, so I regretfully left my Sandra SG Wong novel on the end table and opened up Royal Street Reveillon on my iPad, to sort of get a sense of what was going on with Scotty and the boys before really starting to dig into the new one. I had a side-story I was thinking about adding into it, but now am not so sure or certain that I can either pull it off, or will have the time to do it properly. One can certainly hope, at any rate. But I did manage to make a substantial to-do list for this week, and hopefully by sticking to it and checking it every morning I can make a plan for getting things done throughout the day every day this week.

I can’t believe next Monday is the first of August. Where did this year go? I will be sixty-one in less than thirty days. Yikes!

There’s a deadline for an anthology I had wanted to submit to this coming weekend, but the story I had on hand that I just wanted to revise and polish a bit–I’m not so sure I want to go ahead and submit it without rereading it thoroughly and thinking about it some more, and there may not be time for me to do any of that (if things go the way they usually do, and getting up early makes me tired and not as productive as I could be in the early evenings after I get home) before this weekend–and I have the page proofs of Streetcar to get through, and I have to finish the Bouchercon anthology at some point, which is looming large on the schedule. Losing all that time to COVID was not a help at all in most respects, other than the lengthy break from working and getting so much rest that my body clearly desperately needed–although as always, the exhaustion/fatigue of the illness had me worried that it had nothing to do with being sick and everything to do with my body changing as it ages, and that fatigue was something I was going to have to live with for the rest of my life. That was an absolutely terrifying prospect, especially because knowing that it was the illness (and has now passed) doesn’t mean that all-encompassing fatigue is not, in fact, in my future as a part of being old–which is why I really need to start getting back to the gym and getting my body back into shape. I don’t need to be lean and ripped anymore, like the guys I feature here every day with the blog; that vanity is long gone and continues to grow smaller in the rear view mirror. For me now, getting back to the gym and working out is more about being healthier, working my muscles and keeping them loose and limber and strong, which inevitably brings with it the side effect of more energy and better, more restful sleep. Walking to the gym in the weather we are currently having–the soup-like gumbo of humidity and excessive heat–isn’t particularly appealing to me either, but neither is taking the car to drive five blocks to go work out.

So, I am hoping that today will be a good day as I ease back into my normal routine. A good day seeing my clients, getting work done, and then picking up the mail on my way home. There’s laundry to fold and dishes to put away tonight; tomorrow I have to leave work early because I have a doctor’s appointment. And on that note, I am heading into the spice mines. Hope your Tuesday is a special one, Constant Reader, because you deserve the best! Talk to you tomorrow, okay?

Planets of the Universe

Sunday morning in the Lost Apartment and I slept really well again last night. I feel really rested now that I am over the virus, and the absence of the brain fog (which I feared was simply another sign in the inevitable decline of age) has been simply wonderful. I made groceries yesterday, taking advantage of the “order on-line/pick-up when you get there” systems which are marvelous and I will probably continue to use going forward. I do have to run an errand at some point this morning, but it isn’t really much of anything and it shouldn’t be an issue. I did manage to read some more of Sandra SG Wong’s wonderful In the Dark We Forget, which I am going to spend some time with this morning as well, and I am going to try to write and get some other things organized today. I did make some progress yesterday on things, but I also kind of took it easy on myself. I don’t want to overdue my recovery and potentially relapse–I’ve heard this is a thing, and that one must carefully dip one’s toe back in and slowly reenter the water slowly after getting over this monstrous thing. So, although I really want to just dive in headfirst and work on things all day today, I think I am going to continue to take it easy. Monday is usually my work-at-home day, but I think I am going to actually go into the office tomorrow–I’ve not been in for well over a week–and so it just kind of makes sense to me to go in. I don’t have to see clients tomorrow, for one, and so it’ll just be an easy way to ease back into going to the office as well.

We finished watching Special on Netflix, which was interesting and poignant and funny, and then watched a wonderful documentary about Showgirls, You Don’t Nomi–if you’re a Showgirls fan than you’ll really enjoy You Don’t Nomi (I also read It Doesn’t Suck, the academic book about it from a few years ago as well; it made me think about writing my own essay about the movie–because, of course, I think I should write about everything at one point or another)–and then started watching Chucky on Peacock, which was a lot more fun and better done than I would have thought. I didn’t expect the main character of the show to be a fourteen-year-old gay kid, which makes it a LOT more interesting than I would have originally thought. I’d never seen any of the Chucky movies–but I have a basic idea of what they were about, and I don’t think–at least not so far, but we’re only an episode in–you need to go back to watch the movies to pick up on things you can’t enjoy the series not knowing.

I also need to make a to-do list, update when my bills are due for August on my calendar, and of course, try to get some cleaning and organizing done around my home office workspace. Heavy heaving sigh. It never really ends, does it? LOL. It’s also been raining a lot this weekend–torrential downpours, with minor street flooding–but it looks sunny and very warm out there this morning. It also occurred to me last night that I’ve not had an entire week off from work in the last twelve years other than our trip to Italy in 2014 (eight years ago), so part of this slightly weird disconnect I’m feeling from everything probably has something to do with that. I am not, however, going to allow myself to get stressed out by how behind I am or how much work I have to get done. That doesn’t help and also causes paralysis of a sort. No, the thing to do is make a list, get everything organized as everything needs to be organized, and just start getting things done.

Step one is to get all this mess sorted and put away, which is what I am going to do right now before I put away the dishes. Then I’ll start working on my lists.

So I think I am going to head into the spice mines this morning. Have a lovely day, Constant Reader, and I will check in with you again later.

Candlebright

I slept in again this morning–which has been happening alot, which means I am going to have to get used to getting up early again next week because this morning’s COVID test came back negative. It’s finally over. Yesterday I still felt a little worn down and fatigued, but managed to get things done (not much, really; but some laundry and dishes and some reading and so forth–I was afraid to overdo it, even though I felt good; cautious and concerned about a relapse), but now that I can safely confirm that I am out of the woods, it’s time to start easing myself back into my life. I ordered groceries for curbside pick-up this morning, so once I get that text I’ll drive over to pick them up, but…I’m over everything. It is now safe for me to go out in public (wearing a mask, believe me; I know that doesn’t really protect me but other people, but I can’t help but remember that it was when I allowed myself to get more lax with the masking that I got infected. So yes, intellectually I know it’s not helping but emotionally it makes me feel better to do so, so I am going with the emotions over the intellect on this one) again, and it also means I can finally return to work on Monday. Monday is usually my work at home day, but having been out of the office for the last week, I kind of feel like I probably should pop in on Monday and make my presence known again.

Plus, I have to get all the sick time bullshit sorted–and might as well do that on a day when I don’t have clients.

Huzzah? Huzzah indeed.

We finished the second season of Condor last night, which was enjoyable. If you’re into espionage/political thrillers, this is a very good one. Ben Irons (Jeremy’s son) is really good in the lead as Joe Turner, a low-level CIA employee who catches on to something major in the first season and everything goes to shit for him from there–like the book and movies it was based on (the movie was Three Days of the Condor, starring Robert Redford; the book was Six not Three. I watched this as part of my Cynical 70’s Film Festival during the shutdown/work at home times). I have a copy of the book, by Richard Condon, that it in my enormous TBR pile. I’ve wanted to read it (along with The Manchurian Candidate) because these old political thrillers are interesting to me, with their extreme paranoia and evil Communist archetypes. I want to read them not only for their value as political thrillers but as remnants of a past time that could be said to also border on propaganda–painting the Communists, particularly the Soviet Union–as the bad guys. (This is not to say that the Soviet leadership weren’t bad people–some of them most definitely were–but their national interest also opposed to ours, so from their point of view Americans were the bad guys; that whole “no villain sees themselves as a villain” thing we talk about in character workshops and panels.)

It was also incredibly weird and strange resting so much over the last eight days. I have to recognize the fact that part of how I am feeling–the strangeness–is because I am actually no longer tired. I am always tired, apparently; not really sure why that is other than not getting enough sleep or something along those lines, but this morning, after sleeping off and on almost regularly for eight days, I feel rested this morning. Which means I can get all kinds of things done today–slowly easing myself back into my life, as it were–and plan to spend some time with Sandra SG Wong’s riveting In the Dark We Forget, should do some writing and editing, and then there’s of course all the cleaning and filing and organizing that needs to be done. I need to update my bills list, I need to make a new to-do list, I need to reread and revise a story one last time before submitting it to an anthology I want to get it into; and may I add how lovely it is not to have the brain fog this morning? My head is clear, and that feels amazing. My throat still feels a little bit more raw than I would prefer, and now I know that post-nasal drip is sinus related and a Claritin-D will take care of it. Huzzah!

I also don’t feel terribly daunted about getting started digging out from under the piles of everything that gathered while i was sick and foggy and exhausted, either–which is another good sign. I know it sounds weird, but now that I am sixty (sixty-one in less than a month; there’s still time to get a card and buy a gift, you know) I always worry that things aren’t necessarily related to an illness but rather are a permanent change to my life and my body and my brain. Our bodies and brains don’t come with user manuals, after all, so we are best off just getting by the best we can and always have to wonder. I was worried that the brain fog, for example, wasn’t something related to the COVID plague but rather a shift in my head that goes along with my age, you know? My memory has already become a lot more specious and less-specific than it used to be; I no longer remember things that were committed to memory just a few years ago. Admittedly, a lot of it was trivial information that really only came in handy when you’re playing Jeopardy or Trivial Pursuit, but damn it, I used to always run the categories and rarely, if ever, lost at Trivial Pursuit and those days are sadly long past me now.

And I also feel relatively certain you’re tired of listening to me whine about being sick–well, you don’t have to worry about reading about that any longer, Constant Reader. I was even taking notes on some thoughts about Mississippi River Mischief yesterday in my journal.

And on that note, I am going to get cleaned up so that when I get the text that my groceries are ready I can head down to the store for curbside pick-up, which will be lovely. Have a wonderful Saturday, Constant Reader, and I will check in with you again tomorrow.

Reconsider Me

Well, this morning’s test was positive yet again; apparently with the new variants you can test positive for up to ten days. Yay? Jesus. I woke up feeling pretty good this morning–the fatigue and brain fog weren’t as bad yesterday as they had been on previous days, which I thought was a good sign that maybe this was going to be over very soon. And like I said, while I didn’t exactly spring out of bed this morning with a song on my lips and music in my heart, I felt better on rising then I have since this whole thing started. But if things stay true to form–at least how they’ve been since I first tested positive last Friday–in about an hour I’m going to hit the Wall of Fatigue and Fog. I’m trying not to think about how far behind I am getting on everything. Then again, maybe the worst of it is over and I’m sliding down the other side of Recovery Mountain. Who knows?

I managed to make it through a podcast interview with Julie Hennrikus, executive director of Sisters in Crime, last evening, and I don’t think I made too big of a fool of myself. I’m not sure when it’s going to be available to listen to–I won’t listen to it as I despise the sound of my own voice–but when it is, I will certainly be sharing the link everywhere. It was very kind of Julie and Sisters to have me on, and I always love the opportunity to talk about my favorite subjects–ME and writing and books. I babbled on inanely for quite some time–and I think she very kindly let me ramble on for longer than was scheduled–but as I said, ask me about me and I’ll never shut up.

Which is probably why most people never ask, right?

I started reading Sandra SG Wong’s In the Dark We Forget, and I am already hooked, just a few chapters in. The writing is very strong, and the concept of the story, at least as I understand it thus far, is quite intriguing. I did manage to read about fifty pages or so yesterday before nodding off for nearly two hours–the fatigue was strong yesterday–but the fog was lifting a little and not nearly as bad as it has been. We watched some more episodes of Condor last night, and I have to admit I was having trouble following the story–which is, to be fair, quite convoluted, intricate, and complicated–which might have been the fog. I also managed to get some chores done around here, but seriously I am very happy that my head managed to clear for the interview.

Ah, there’s the fog. No fatigue yet, though. I think I can handle the fog without the fatigue–at least the fog doesn’t make me feel like I need to take a nap every half an hour, which is a definite plus.

And there’s the fatigue. I knew it was too good to be true, and I also just realized–how funny–that I started writing this over an hour ago. So I guess I’m not as back to normal as I had thought when I first woke up, am I? LOL. I do often amuse myself with my lack of self-awareness and my ability for self-delusion. I guess I want to get over this quickly and so am ready to grasp any improvement as a sign that it’s finally past. But today I do feel somewhat better than I have since the first positive test last Friday. While I do feel some fatigue, it’s not as extreme as it has been, and the brain fog isn’t nearly as paralyzing as it was before. I guess the real test will be the ability to focus, won’t it?

I was also informed this morning that the new variants will result in positive test results for up to ten days. I guess I have one of the new variants, because we are on day six of this, and tomorrow will be the first full week of it. But I do think the worst has passed now, and it should be all downhill from here. And again–so lucky; this could have been so much worse, thank God for inoculations and so forth. The fatigue is starting to spread now–it’s almost weird how it starts in one place (usually, it starts with the brain fog) and then works its way through the rest of my body.

Christ, I have so much to do. I hope I can keep my focus together to get all of this stuff finished. I guess I can always just do the old “work on a bit until I am tired and then when I am not tired go back to it” system, which has worked before. I’ve also not ever been sick this long in quite some time, if ever. Ugh, stop whining, already and remember how lucky you are: you didn’t need to be hospitalized, fevers were mild and not long-lasting, no stomach upset of any kind, and best of all, no intubation. It’s been, for me, mostly unpleasant and time-consuming, neither of which are ideal. But also cannot be helped–but that resignation always feels like defeat to me for some reason, and I hate that about myself.

I don’t think I’ll ever live long enough to properly self-examine all of my neuroses, hang-ups, and issues. Probably for the best, and on that note, I’ll bring this to a close. Sorry for all the illness updating; hopefully soon we’ll be back to normal around here, Constant Reader–or whatever passes for it. Have a great Thursday!

Gold and Braid

Positive again this morning, despite waking up and feeling pretty good–and then I remembered the last few mornings were the same and it started kicking in about an hour after getting up. So, I am sitting here drinking my first cup of coffee, staring glumly at the two lines on my test strip, and waiting for this stupid virus to wake up inside my body and start fucking with me again. Ah, well, I should make use of this hour, shouldn’t I?

Yesterday was glum, really. I started experiencing fever for the first time since I tested positive last Friday or whenever it was, and that was particularly unpleasant. I did, however, realize hey one of the things you’ve never done is have things delivered rather than going to the store, and since I needed to be isolated from the world during this period, I thought why not go check and see if, say, Costco will deliver? So I went to their website, saw that yes, indeed, I could have an order delivered to my front door, and so I did. When Ashanti (my shopper/driver/delivery person) arrived, I put on rubber gloves and a N95 mask to go meet her at the gate–she saw the mask and gloves and wisely kept her distance (I have never before in my life understood how lepers must have felt back in the day the way I did when I saw the look on her face)–and then wore myself out lugging everything back to the Lost Apartment…but still, I got the stuff I needed. I couldn’t focus long enough to read anything–I had started Sandra SG Wong’s marvelous In the Dark We Forget at some point over the weekend, but I wasn’t really able to get far into it or focus on it yesterday, either–so I mostly spent the day under blankets in the easy chair trying to brainstorm and so forth on the things I am working on–without much luck. I also had a marketing meeting yesterday afternoon over the phone with Crooked Lane, which was daunting–reminding me again how far behind on everything I am, but it was nice for them to do and to give advice and tips on what to do, which was very cool. I also spent a good amount of time writing two emails–which ordinarily wouldn’t have taken long at all, but yesterday it took hours because of the inability to focus I mentioned–and after writing each, had to go sit and rest for a while as they wore me out. Dragging the Costco order back to the apartment in the heat also exhausted me.

Ah, there’s the muscle fatigue and joint aches I was missing when I woke up this morning.

Paul is feeling much better, which makes me tend to think he had it first and gave it to me (there’s no way of knowing, really, since it’s different with everyone) but I’m glad he’s feeling better, to be honest. If one of us has to be ill, I would prefer it to be me because I don’t worry about me the way I worry about him when he gets sick, if that makes sense at all? I hate that helpless feeling when someone you love isn’t feeling good and there’s not a damned thing you can do about it. That’s the absolute worst.

We’re watching Becoming Elizabeth, and I have to say–while I am certainly not an expert by any means on Tudor England or on Queen Elizabeth (I do have some knowledge–for example, at one point last night a new character was introduced and I thought, “I bet that’s Amy Robsart” and I was right) I have to say this is one of the most accurate fictional series based on history I’ve seen. There aren’t many books about the period when young Edward VI reigned–obviously, it’s talked about in other books from a sideways view, like Antonia Fraser’s Mary Queen of Scots–and the only one I can actually think of is Mary M. Luke’s A Crown for Elizabeth, which detailed the Tudor period from the deaths of Catherine of Aragon and Anne Boleyn through Elizabeth’s succession to the throne in 1558, and of course Carrolly Erickson’s marvelous Bloody Mary also covers this territory, but from Mary’s point of view. Sigh, I do love history, and watching this is making me want to reread not only Anya Seton’s Green Darkness but Philippa Carr’s The Miracle at St. Bruno’s.

And now I am feeling tired again, so am going to go sit for a spell. Have a lovely Tuesday, Constant Reader.