Mystified

Monday morning and all is quiet in the Lost Apartment. I am heading back into the office this morning–I have a lot of trainings to get done today, as well as plenty of my own day job work that needs to get finished–and then I hope to come home and get some work on the book done, as well as some cleaning up around here. I made dinner last night and I made chili in the slow cooker, so the sink is full and the counters a bit on the sloppy side. I feel well rested this morning, which is something I’ve noticed happens on Monday mornings now that I have shifted my work-at-home days again; when it was Monday I always somehow woke up tired every Tuesday morning and starting the week off being tired was always unpleasant, as it continued building until the weekend. I think I needed this past weekend to get rest, to be honest; I’ve been feeling a lot of fatigue lately. I’m also worried a bit about burnout, too–I am not feeling 100% this morning, to be honest, but my COVID test was negative, small victories–and I am wondering if it might not be my blood sugar. I’ve noticed lately that my blood sugar sometimes spikes and then wanes, and again, I have to wonder if that has anything to do with my eating habits and so forth. I felt hungry a lot all weekend, yet nothing sounded either appetizing or appealing to eat. I didn’t make dinner on Saturday–I was going to make Salisbury steaks–and so while the chili cooked yesterday I made the steaks. They were good–Paul didn’t have any, he waited for the chili–and then this morning again I felt like my blood sugar was low enough for me to be concerned about it. (the last time I had lab work done it was high; which reminds me, I need to have it done again soon.)

I worked on the book this weekend around my fits of fatigue and television watching; yesterday we watched House of the Dragon (enjoyed), The Serpent Queen (not one of the better ones), and Interview with the Vampire (I was rather disappointed with this episode, which is a shame; I loved how they were doing Claudia when they first introduced her but missed the mark with this one, methinks). We also started watching A Friend of the Family, which led me to remark at some point, “You know, the 1970’s really were awful for the most part, weren’t they? The clothes, the cars, the furniture, the home decor, the hair…everything was a style crime.” Watching this, it’s very hard to imagine that such a thing could happen–there seems to be this sense of innocence in non-urban areas (sorry, but Pocatello, Idaho doesn’t really count to me as an urban area, apologies to Idahoans) that lasted from the 1950’s through the 1970’s so things like this could happen. And while fathers and mothers were always deeply concerned about their daughters’ sexuality and keeping it locked down until they were “safely” married; it would never enter the minds of good Christian people that someone who went to church with them and was a close family friend (although there was some incredibly questionable behavior, and the ‘family friend’–played with just the right dose of charm and smarm by Jake Lacy–really crossed many lines) would be a child molester or a pervert or a sexual deviant; people were sooooo convinced back then that you could actually spot such a person because they were so vile and depraved it had to show; the character I find the most interesting is the family friend’s wife, who was clearly emotionally (if not physically) beaten down by her husband and clearly had what we now call ‘Stockholm syndrom’–that, to me, is the interesting story. How could you write such a story from her perspective and gain the reader’s sympathies and understanding?

Paul is leaving for slightly over a week on Friday and there’s no LSU game this weekend–there are some interesting games on this weekend, but nothing I actually need to watch; I can always check scores and watch highlights if I need to; the big conference games this weekend are Georgia-Florida and Tennessee-Kentucky–no need to watch either, other than they are rivalry games and thus one can never be sure of how might actually win the game; Florida and Kentucky certainly needs the wins more. How wild would that be if both undefeated teams in the East went down to defeat in the same weekend? So, I think I’ll spend the weekend writing, reading and cleaning. I don’t really need to hit the grocery store for much since Paul will be gone, either. We’ll see how much I can get done, and we’ll see how productive my evenings are going to be. Scooter will be much more needy than usual, but rather than just hanging out in my chair and watching tv with him in my lap I can actually watch television in bed when I get home at night…an interesting thought.

I am also enjoying my reread of The Haunting of Hill House, and my God, how much do I love the way Shirley Jackson writes? I think my holy trinity of women writers of dark fiction (I can’t really call Jackson a crime writer, although there’s some terrific overlap) are du Maurier, Jackson, and Mary Stewart. Stewart isn’t really a dark writer, though; I don’t know what to call them but those three women are probably, if I had to pick three, my holy trinity. The Haunting of Hill House is so melancholic and dreamlike; the word choices and the sentence structures and the paragraph construction things of absolute beauty. I also love the character of Nell (I wonder how much she influenced Stephen King in his creation of Carrie?) and how sad and lonely and despondent she is, particularly since she is so young (just past thirty). Then again, at the time it was written that was pretty much middle-age and she would have been considered a spinster.

The weather has turned into the beautiful fall we always enjoy in New Orleans; that we long for yet forget about during those long, hot, damp hideous days of summertime. I am also expecting some things in the mail; an anthology I contributed a story to a very long time ago is supposed to drop this month, and when I met with the Crooked Lane publicist at Bouchercon she told me I’d get my box of author copies in late Halloween; so I am resisting the urge to run to the post office every day just in case. It has been eighteen years since I had a hardcover release of any kind; it’s kind of lovely to have one again after all this time. I need to start posting about the new book a lot more once November 1 pops up on the calendar; as the countdown to the release date draws near I need to amp up the promotion. Does it work? I don’t know, to be honest, and that often makes it hard for me to want to make the effort at all.

And on that note, I need to get cleaned up and head into the spice mines for the day. Have a lovely Monday, Constant Reader, and I will speak to you again tomorrow morning in the darkness of the predawn.

Songbird

Thursday!

My back, while still a little tight, is more irritating than painful; it’s at that stage where it is so close to not hurting at all anymore that it’s annoying that it hasn’t stopped, if that makes sense at all? I ran errands on my way home from work yesterday–mail and a prescription–and then came home, did a load of dishes, and then collapsed into my chair with the heating pad. I am taking it to work again with me this morning–more heat can’t hurt, after all, and the office is cold–and hopefully will wake up tomorrow morning feeling ever so much better. We got caught up on House of the Dragon last night–it’s getting better, but man was it ever getting off to a slow start–and it’s not as big and epic as Game of Thrones was; it’s more contained, with fewer characters and fewer story-lines, for one thing–and then we watched Archer (it really misses Jessica Walter; Mallory Archer was too great of a character for the show to do without) before calling it a night and heading for bed. I slept well again last night–only woke up a few times–and my back felt better when I got up…but it is slowly starting to make itself known, so yes, definitely bringing the heating pad to the office with me this morning.

I was thinking, last night as I waited for Paul to finish working (whenever he comes home earlier than usual, he inevitably spends a few hours making calls and sending emails once he’s home), about something that has been sticking in my mind for quite a while–and last night it hit me between the eyes.

People talk a lot about crime in New Orleans–it’s usually code for people to be racist without being outright racist; I always laugh at people in the comments section of the local news stations or newspapers, talking about crime in New Orleans and ‘that’s why they left New Orleans’ for the suburbs/West Bank/North Shore, etc. I laugh at this because they will always claim to other people Not From Here that they are, indeed, from New Orleans (bitch, you’re from Metairie) and I always want to ask them, “was it really crime in New Orleans that drove you out of the city, or was it the desegregation of the schools, hmmm?” Every neighborhood in New Orleans, you see, is mixed; the Garden District neighborhood at one time also included the St. Thomas Housing Projects. And sure, crime has been on the rise here lately. But I have lived in New Orleans since 1996, and white people are always talking about crime here and shaking their heads about how the city “has gone downhill.” Um, if you study the history of New Orleans, the city has always been filled with crime; IT’S A GODDAMNED PORT CITY.

Anyway, as I was standing in line waiting to board my flight out of Minneapolis, the woman in front of me turned out to also be from New Orleans (River Ridge). She was absolutely lovely, and we chatted the entire time we waited and as we went down the jetway to the plane–which, for someone whose default is always social awkwardness, was something–and ironically, she was the person in front of me in line for the flight from Chicago to New Orleans. She began talking to me about the crime and I did my usual shrug “there’s always been crime in New Orleans” and when she asked me if I wasn’t afraid, I just shook my head and said “no–no more than usual.”

That, of course, started a thread in my head about why are you not afraid of the rising crime in New Orleans and I realized, as I had also said to the nice lady, “I’m just always hyper-aware of my surroundings and what’s going on around me.” And then last night it hit me: as opposed to the nice straight white people of New Orleans, the rising crime rate doesn’t really bother me because I have never felt completely safe anywhere or anytime in my life–that’s what life is like for queers in this country.

I had to train myself as a kid to always keep my eyes moving and always be aware of what’s going on around me–I look ahead, I look behind, I always am looking from one side to the other and am always on hyper-alert because you never know when the gay bashers are going to come for you. I’m no more afraid now than I have ever been throughout the course of my life, and I had decided a long time ago that I would not live my life in fear anymore–but to always be vigilant.

Straight white people aren’t used to not feeling safe and they don’t like it when they don’t.

Welcome to what it feels like to be a minority in this country–and let’s face it, I still have white male privilege; I can’t imagine what it’s like to navigate this world as a black lesbian or transwoman.

But straight white people? This is their world and it is the world they made. While straight white women are oppressed terribly by straight white men, many of them have been gaslit into thinking they are less than straight white men and it is simply their lot in life, and they accept that in exchange for protection by the patriarchy. So while it is true that for women, car-jackings and muggings are just one more thing to add to their backpack of oppressive fears–usually sexual assaults (physical or verbal) or harassment. Interesting, right?

But for those Stockholm Syndrome suffering straight white women, crime is outrageous and horrifying to them because the system is theoretically set up to protect them from crime.

And what’s a little sexual harassment if it means you won’t get mugged or carjacked by that scary Black man? Boys will be boys, after all; they’re just wired that way.

I’ve always wanted to write from the perspective of someone like Brock Turner, the Stanford swimming rapist–but I don’t think I can. I can’t imagine what it would be like to be so blind about your own child, especially since I don’t (and never wanted) any of my own.

And yes, this is yet another subject for an essay.

But the fog of exhaustion seems to finally be lifting from my head–hallelujah–and so I think–if I am not too tired when I get home tonight, that is–I am going to be able to get back to work on my writing either today or tomorrow. I also want to start reading my new Donna Andrews novel, and I want to read Nelson Algren’s A Walk on the Wild Side before October, when I have to turn my attention to the horror genre again for Halloween.

And on that note, I am heading into the spice mines. Have a lovely Thursday, Constant Reader.