I Pledge My Love

Good morning, Saturday, how are you doing? I’ve been up for over an hour and am just now finishing my second cup of coffee. I slept really well last night, and feel incredibly rested this morning. This is a good thing; I have a few errands to run later this morning (including getting my filthy filthy car washed) and therefore I need a lot of energy. I am also dropping off several bags worth of beads and throws at the Latter Library drop-off for the ARC of Greater New Orleans (attention locals: if you’re looking to get rid of excess beads and throws, here is a list of the drop-off points.). There are also a few odds and ends I need to get at the grocery store, and of course I always need to get the mail.

Yesterday was a bit of an adventure.

So, Thursday afternoon my MacBook Air started…well, acting a little funky. It was working just fine, no worries on that score, but on the left part of the screen, a series of vertical black lines suddenly appeared. I could still see what was behind them, but there was some flickering and the wall paper just turned into flickering blotches of color. Uh oh, I said to myself, that can’t be good. I spoke to Apple Support on-line, and we determined that yes, it wasn’t software but a hardware issue, which is what I suspected all along. We made an appointment for me to take it to the Genius Bar at the Apple Store in Metairie, the earliest available appointment being for 3:15. Terrific, I thought. I get off work at one, can drive out to Metairie and go shopping at Target–which I need to do anyway–and then head to the mall.

So, I did precisely that; I got off work at one, headed over to 610, and took it to where it merges with I-10 just over the parish line and drove out to Clearview Parkway. I spent far too much money at Target (it’s just like Costco in that way; even with a list I buy more than I intended to–oh, look, I need toothpaste but this deal for two is a dollar cheaper than buying two separately at separate times; oh, coffee is on sale? This is too good a deal to pass up…and so it goes) and loaded everything in the hatch of the car (where there were already all the bags of beads and throws to be donated) and headed to Lakeview Mall. I checked in–an hour early–at the Apple Store, then went to eat at the Smashburger in the food court (good, but a little too expensive; I should have stopped at Atomic Burger, which is also expensive but worth it). I returned to the Apple Store and started checking out the MacBook Airs, just in case the old one wasn’t reparable. I really can’t afford to buy a new one at this time, but was prepared to because I can’t do without a laptop.

And long story short, no they couldn’t repair it because it was too old. I bought the Air in 2011–eight years old, and eight years of it working brilliantly whenever I needed it to.

So, I decided to go ahead and get the least expensive one, which was actually very similar to mine. Except…

..they had none in stock, it had to be ordered, and the earliest I could get it would be April 1st.

Um, no. They did have the more expensive models in stock, of course.

But there was no way I was taking that financial hit and then having to wait four weeks to actually get the damned thing, all the while hoping that the current one would continue to work.

But this happened before, I remembered, with my current iPad–the store told me it would take five weeks to get it on back order, then I came home, went on-line, ordered it from Apple.com and had it within a week. So, I decided to come home and do the same thing–order it on-line and see what happened.

But as I was leaving the mall and turning around to head back to New Orleans, I saw there was a Best Buy on my right. What the hell, I thought, and pulled into their parking lot. Long story short, I bought a HP Stream for $251 total and it didn’t cost me any cash out of pocket; the cashier signed me up for Best Buy credit and if I pay it off in six months there’s no interest…which means even if it is a cheap piece of shit and breaks down or turns out to be useless, it should give me at least another year of use while I save up to buy a proper Apple laptop. And I may not even go with the Air next time and might get a MacBook Pro.

This HP Stream also looks just like my old iBook, which I loved and used for six years or so before its motherboard went out. It’ll take some getting used to, of course, but this all kind of worked out really well for me and I am most pleased.

And when I got home, there were no places to park on my street–remember, hatch was full of bags from shopping at Target–but as I drove down the street, resigned to having to lug everything two blocks in the heavy humidity we get before a rain, someone pulled out of a spot right in front of my house.

Seriously.

So, today I am going to run my errands and come back home to clean. I also plan on doing one last copy edit of Scotty before I send it in to my editor, and also get back to work on the WIP. I also need to read some more of Alafair Burke’s The Better Sister, in preparation for our panel later this month at the Tennessee Williams Festival.

And I hope you have a lovely, lovely day, Constant Reader.

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Stand by Me

Friday; the last day of my work week and it’s a half-day, at that. How lovely.

Or it would be, but I have to go to Metairie to the Apple Store this afternoon. My laptop is acting funny, and I really really don’t want to replace it. Granted, it is eight years old, and it may not even be fixable, but it doesn’t hurt to find out one way or the other. Yesterday morning some long black lines showed up on the left of the screen, and the images beneath the lines were flickering. Heavy heaving sigh.

It never fails, does it? I was just starting to feel a little bit more comfortable. That’ll teach me, right? Plus this is throwing a monkey wrench into my plans for the weekend. Oh, okay, yes, I had only a two and half day work week, sure. But still. I was really looking forward to not leaving the house this weekend. Heavy heaving sigh.

Ah, well. It is what it is. The worst part of the trip to Metairie is going to be returning to the city during rush hour. Just thinking about it turns my stomach…heavy heaving sigh. Now i am also thinking I should have made the appointment for Saturday and kept my Friday as originally planned.

Paul and I started watching You on Netflix this week, and I have to say I was most impressed with it. At first I was like, oh, okay, a stalker story where the girl falls in love, unknowingly, with her stalker. I’ve seen this before, thank you very much and thought I’d give it an episode or two…but then the first episode took a much darker turn that I didn’t see coming and that woke me the fuck up. I am looking forward to watching the rest of the show now…alas, with the festivals looming on the horizon, Paul is terribly busy so leisure watching isn’t really a priority for him these days.

I am still feeling a little bit out of it this morning; like my life is something I’m watching on television and not actually participating in. Needless to say this is a bit disorienting. I’ve not been doing as much creative thinking this week as I would have preferred, but this entire week has been an exercise in “just make it through till the weekend”; I’m not sure why that is, but it has been. I also feel very disconnected from the world at large; Carnival always has this weird tendency to separate us here from the rest of the country and the rest of the world and what’s going on out there, and these days the news moves so quickly that it’s impossible to get caught up on what’s happened during the parades.

I did do some creative thinking yesterday, about the long-abandoned and pushed to the side used-to-be-WIP. I had already decided to do one last revision of it and turn it in to my publisher; it’s what I am going to do once I finish the first draft of the current WIP. I also am going to start doing my research on the next Scotty; I suppose that makes it kind of official that I am going to do a ninth one. But don’t get too excited, Scotty fans; I am going to have to finish these other two first and there’s another first draft I want to write before I get to the Scotty; a gay noir I’ve been wanting to write for quite some time. That would be Muscles, and over this weekend one of the things I want to get done is pulling all of the material I want together (that I already have on hand) for the next three manuscripts. I am also going to go over Royal Street Reveillon one more time; one final read and copy edit before it finally is turned in for good.

And on that note, ’tis back to the spice mines for me.

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Head over Heels

Well, I survived yesterdays’ trip to Metairie and Target (shudder) and also spent way more money than I should have; which of course is part of the Target trap. But none of the money was wasted and it was all things we will use, and things we needed. So there’s that. I’m still flummoxed, though, at how much I spent. Heavy heaving sigh.

I wasn’t sore at all from my workout Sunday yesterday, although I did start feeling tired/sleepy early in the evening. I wrote two thousand words of a short story I got the idea for while watching Broadchurch Sunday evening (we finished season two, and started season three last night); the show and the story are kind of linked as the show gave me the idea for the story; it’s called “Neighborhood Warning” and the story really flowed, at least until I started getting sleepy. AT that point I retired to my easy chair to read; I worked on the Short Story Project while waiting for Paul to come home. I read  “Safety Rules” by Jill D. Block from Lawrence Block’s anthology Alive in Shape and Color.

Day One

This was my third time, and I knew exactly what to expect. I got downtown early, so I had time to stop at Starbucks when I got off the subway. I was upstairs, in the appointed room, at 8:55. I found a seat, took out my magazine, flipped past the fashion ads, and was already pretty well into Graydon Carter’s piece on Trump by the time things got started. The lady told us to tear our cards along the perforated fold, and after she collected the bottom piece, she turned on the instructional video.

I wasn’t at all surprised when a court officer came into the room, about thirty minutes after the video ended, to call for the first group. I knew the drill–twenty or twenty-five of us would be taken up to a courtroom where they’d be selecting a jury. Everyone else would stay here, and other groups would be called for throughout the day and maybe into tomorrow. Three days tops, and I’d have done my civic duty. I hoped that I would be called in this first group–early in, early out. Maybe I’d even have time to look for boots before I headed uptown.

Veronica Ellis, our main character, is following the rules; summoned for jury duty, she assumes it’s going to be the same as it always has been before. But this time is different, and she starts paying more attention as she realizes a lot more people have been called than she is used to, and soon enough the jury pool finds out that their case is the 1978 kidnapping and murder of Milo Richter, a young boy and the person who may have committed the crime at long last is being brought to trial. The Richter case is famous, but has even more resonance for Veronica–when she was young, around the same time as the Richter case, her best childhood friend Micheline was kidnapped and murdered. At first, Veronica sees that is a kind of karmic justice–she is meant to serve on this jury, as a way of getting justice for Micheline…but then she begins to wonder if she actually should serve on this jury. Block skillfully juggles her timelines between the present day going through the motions of jury duty with Veronica remembering Micheline and what happened when she was a little girl. I was totally sucked into this story, and enjoyed it very much.

I also read Barry Hannah’s “Testimony of Pilot,” from his collection Airships.

When I was ten, eleven and twelve, I did a good bit of my play in the backyard of a three-story wooden house my father bought and rented out, his first venture into real estate. We lived right across the street from it, but over here was the place to do your real play. Here there was a harrowed but overgrown garden, a vine-swallowed fence at the back end, and beyond the fence a cornfield which belonged to someone else. This was not the country. This was the town, Clinton, Mississippi between Jackson on the east and Vicksburg on the west. On this lot stood a few water oaks, a few plum bushes, and much overgrowth of honeysuckle vine. At the very back end, at the fence, stood three strong nude chinaberry trees.

I’ve always felt my lack of appreciation for the talents of Barry Hannah an obvious intellectual failure on my part. This edition of Airships, which was originally published in 1978, had an introduction–or rather, an “appreciation”–by Pulitzer Prize winner Richard Ford; the collections itself won the PEN/Malamud Award back when I was just graduating from high school. I bought my first copy of this collection back in the early 1980’s, when I was attending Fresno City College after flunking out of school in Kansas, to try to get my GPA up to a level that would warrant admission into the California State University system. I took another Creative Writing class there, after my first horrible attempt in Kansas, and there I found an instructor who not only believed in me and my talents, but actively encouraged me to take writing up as a profession; several of the stories I wrote for his class he encouraged me to submit to magazines and professional journals. None of those stories ever saw print, of course, but I always appreciated him as a teacher. He was very into Barry Hannah and Raymond Carver (the other text for the class besides Airships was Carver’s Will You Please Be Quiet Please), and while I could see why, at the time, he appreciated and loved Hannah’s writing style so much, it didn’r work for me. We were asked to read the story “Love Too Long” to discuss in class; the rest was independent reading, and after “Love Too Long” I never picked the book up again. Hannah didn’t resonate with me. I bought another copy of this book last year, along with Hannah’s novel Geronimo Rex when I was looking at Southern Gothic literature; I found a list of Southern Gothic writers somewhere and Hannah was listed. I thought, perhaps I can appreciate him now and bought the two books.

One of the things that has to be addressed right off the bat is the racism and homophobia in this story. I didn’t address the issue of racism in Faulkner’s story “Barn Burning” yesterday; primarily because the use of the n-word was only in dialogue and was only used in dialogue by the character of the asshole redneck father; it worked in that instance, even as it was jarring to read for me, and while Faulkner used the word “Negro” to refer to people of color in the text, at the time the story was written that was the commonly accepted, socially acceptable word to use. But Hannah’s character is very much a racist and very much a homophobe; the words fag and queer are used in this story as casually as the n-word. This automatically renders the main character of this story unlikable to me, and likewise unrelatable; I am predisposed to dislike him and he gets none of my sympathy. In fact, nothing he does in this story makes him sympathetic in any way. Maybe that was what Hannah was trying to do in this story, but I couldn’t help but think, as I read it, that the story was loosely slapped together and in a strong need of editorial guidance. I’m still not even sure what the point of the story was. The story opens when the main character is a kid, with his psychotic neighbor kid launched M-80’s from a makeshift cannon at a house where people of color live (lovely); turns out they are sending them at the wrong house and the kid who lives there for some reason comes across the field to tell them to stop and for some reason brings his saxophone with him–I guess that’s because it’s something kids would do? They launch an M-80 at him and injure him without much remorse. He then becomes friends with the main character when they are both in the high school band and the story keeps following them from point to point until the sax-player, Arden Quadberry, winds up a fighter pilot in the Nacy during Vietnam and…I guess this is a slice of life story.

It was originally published in Esquire, which paid what would be considered a lot of money now, let alone in the 1970’s, for short fiction.  Maybe Hannah was a writer of his time, who hasn’t aged well–Richard Ford notwithstanding–but it’s just more of the straight white cisgender male macho posturing to me, and his literary word choices/flourishes just don’t work for me, which is clearly my own failing; I ‘d rather read a genre short story than something like this. I’ll continue to read Hannah, hoping to have that aha moment where his genius will reveal itself to me–after all, they’re short stories so it’s not a colossal time suck if I never get it–but yeah, I just don’t get it.

And now, back to the spice mines.

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