Friday! I am up ridiculously early on what would ordinarily be a work-at-home day, but I actually have taken a personal day today because I have to take my desktop to the Apple Store in Metairie at nine this morning. Yes, I finally broke down and decided to see if there’s anything that can be done with it. Last week, I had to take Paul out there to buy a cord for his phone (and a remote for the Apple TV, since somehow ours disappeared) and I asked them about loading an operating system into it; the guy said they’d do it for free, so I made the appointment. I don’t entirely trust Apple, though, so I am expecting that it either will cost me money, or they’ll tell me the computer is irreparable or something. Heavy sigh, it’s always something, isn’t it?

I couldn’t sleep last night–par for the course, really, anymore–and so at six this morning I just gave up and got up. I am going to try to swill down enough coffee to make me lucid before having to drive out there. I’m going to also see if I can buy replacement watchbands–I have two watches with broken bands–while I am at the mall, even though the rest of the mall doesn’t open until eleven. I am taking a book with me, and of course will have my phone, as I plan to simply wait there at the mall until my computer is ready. If it’s going to take more than a few hours, I *may* drive home and then go back out there again; I don’t know. I guess I will see what they say when I check the computer in…I know when Wendy and I went to the Apple Store in Tampa during Bouchercon several years ago to get her phone repaired, they said it wouldn’t take more than an hour but we were there for hours, waiting–so these things generally, inevitably, always take longer than they say.

I have other errands I am going to do today; I had two other appointments–doctor and eye doctor–but in an odd weird coincidence, both were cancelled yesterday afternoon…a pain in the ass, to be sure, but what can I do? I was trying to be efficient and do everything I need to do in Metairie on the same day, but it was, alas, not to be.

We got caught up on Mare of Easttown last night, and started watching a documentary about the opioid epidemic on HBO MAX, The Crime of the Century, which was very well done and really horrifying to watch–it’s just another example of how fucked up this country is, and what an enormously flawed system capitalism actually is; when there is no legal accountability for a pharmaceutical company for addicting millions of Americans deliberately, and elected officials and doctors are complicit, what hope does anyone have for justice? Addiction has always terrified me–I have had mental addictions before, but thank God no physical cravings for anything–and it’s one of the many reasons I try to be careful with my alprazolam prescription; I am out and cannot have it refilled again until July–so hold on to your hats as my moods are going to start swinging and my anxiety is going to get out of control again, yippee! But it’s probably best that I go cold turkey on it for a couple of months…anyway, back to the opioids. I never really quite understood the connection between oxycontin and heroin before; why people who became addicted to an opioid would then go to heroin; I knew it happened, but never completely made the connection that, for all intents and purposes, oxycontin was simply a legal, pure form of stronger heroin. I myself have been prescribed oxycontin before–for pain–but I also have always had a high tolerance for pain and so never needed to use every pill prescribed; being able to take a couple to get through the intense pain and then handling it on my own after that without taking anything. I can certainly see how one can become addicted to it–it’s lovely to not have pain, after all, and you also never realize how many aches and pains you deal with on a daily basis (and think nothing of) until you take something that makes all of that go away. For people who have chronic pain, this is the choice they are given: live in pain or become a drug addict, and possibly die from an overdose.

Addiction is yet another big subject I’ve never tackled in my own fiction; I was always very careful to make certain I didn’t give in to the incredibly easy trope of the alcoholic (or hard drinking) private eye–there are very few who manage to do it well, make it fresh, have something new to say about it. J. M. Redmann’s Micky Knight series is one where it works; Micky’s fondness for whiskey (particularly fine Scotch) never really crosses the line into an alcoholism trope; I have written about drinking too much and having a hangover and having to deal with reality while suffering from the after-effects of binge drinking; that is something I am familiar enough with to write about, although I always fear I have gone to that well far too often. I often question myself too much, I think, about my work, and in addition to my frequent imposter syndrome, I always am worried that I am repeating myself in my work; something that becomes all too easy the older I get and the more I have written and the more my memory declines.

As my body continues to break down and decay as it ages, that’s part of the reason I am hopeful my desktop computer can be easily be repaired and made usable again; I need the big screen to view and work on. I have tried, for the longest time, to get used to using the small screen of my laptop and be able to work on it–I really have no choice, but it has made me feel incredibly disconnected from my work and like I am not working the way I should be, and my lack of productivity over the past few years has been directly connected to having to work on this MacBook Air. I have already decided if the computer is irreparable, I am going to probably go ahead and use my tax refund to buy a new desktop; it is a tax deduction, inevitably, even if I don’t want to spend the money, it is a necessary work tool. I don’t fool myself into thinking it will actually solve my productivity issues, by any means, but it will help–and once I’ve spent the money, I think I can make myself do the work if for no other reason than for the fact that I spent all that money.

Sigh. It also just occurred to me that the computer may not even get worked on today; they might just be checking it in and at some point it’ll be ready over the weekend or next week….

On that cheery thought, I need to get in the shower and ready to head for Metairie. May your Friday be lovely and marvelous, Constant Reader.

I Sing for the Things

Again in the thirties this morning. Yeesh. We did turn the heat on last night, and after burying myself in blankets last night in bed, I woke up after a really restful sleep and also realized, despite the pile of blankets, that I was merely comfortable and not hot…I got out of bed and it was pleasant…then I came downstairs to the Arctic temperatures. Madness. Yesterday I discovered that my hands will fit into boys’ gloves–so I bought five pairs so I could cut the fingertips off and wear them to type in my office. I have a space heater going, a wool cap on my head, and with the fingertip-less gloves, I actually feel like I can get some work done in the freezer, er, office, this morning.

Yesterday I was on a panel about Villains at Wizard World’s Comic Con here in New Orleans at the Convention Center, with Genese Davis, the incomparable Heather Graham, and the sublimely talented Bill Loefhelm. I walked down there from the house, despite the cold, and got a lift home from Heather and the awesome Connie Perry (whom I also love seeing). So I got a lot of my Fitbit steps in as well. The panel discussion was pretty lively–really, you can never go wrong with villains, and hey, any time I get a chance to mention/talk about Catherine de Medici on a panel and see people in the audience nodding? I chalk that up as a BIG win.

Today I have to buckle down and work; I’ve got more than one space heater going here in the kitchen and the fingerless gloves really do make a difference, by the way–you never realize how much heat you lose through your head, hands and feet until you actually cover them up. At least it’s not gray outside; despite the cold the sky is blue and the sun is shining, and the bright sunlight coming through the windows feels lovely. I can handle–although I dislike it intensely–cold weather, as long as the sun is out. Dark and grim and gray and cold? Miserable.

Today’s short story is from the anthology Tart Noir, edited by Lauren Henderson and Stella Duffy. The purpose of the anthology was to flip the script on noir; which at the time of publication (2002) was still seen primarily as the province of men and stories told from the male point of view; which usually reduced women to being sex objects in the form of femme fatales. Tart Noir was about the female gaze, noir told from the woman’s point of view (and think about it, wouldn’t The Maltese Falcon or Double Indemnity, told from the woman’s point of view, be fascinating?), and editors Duffy and Henderson got some major crime writing women to contribute–in addition to themselves, there are stories from Val McDermid, Laura Lippman, Karin Slaughter, Denise Mina, Vicki Hendricks, and Sujata Massey, among others–and the book is quite remarkably good.

The short story I want to talk about today is “Tragic Heroines Tell All,” Lauren Henderson’s contribution to the anthology. Lauren is quite an accomplished author; she wrote the Sam Jones series (which you should check out) and several other things, including y/a, and then started writing the fabulous Rebecca Chance “ripped from the tabloids” bonkbusters (Bad Brides is, bar none, one of the funniest novels I’ve ever read; I giggle just thinking about it), which are enormously fun. “Tragic Heroines Tell All” is also quite clever.

It was always going to be a disaster. I couldn’t understand why I was the only one, out of everyone who worked on the show, who had seen it coming. But they were all too caught up in the celebrities who were participating…the originality of the concept…the miracles our booker had performed, coaxing even the most reluctant guests into the spotlight by dangling the carrot of a large, juicy fee in front of their noses.

Didn’t it occur to anyone, I wanted to say, that if it were such a good idea, someone would have done it before? People who were much better qualified than us? But that would have sounded negative, and we were big on positivity at The Jillian Jackson Show. Besides, I didn’t need to cover my back. I was too lowly for anyone to try to dump the blame for this fiasco onto me. I could watch the slow-motion train wreck unfolding on the screen before my eyes and, in a twisted, perverse, altogether skin-crawling kind of way, actually enjoy it.

The premise of the story is quite clever. When the story was written and the book published, trashy talk shows of The Jerry Springer Show were all the rage on television; everyone, it seemed, had a show along the lines of Oprah or Donahue; the difference being Oprah and Phil Donahue addressed social issues in order to create discussion and understanding; the others went for the lowest denominator and shock value. The show in this story is one of those, and the theme of this particular episode being taped, “Tragic Heroines Tell All,” features two from Greek mythology, Phaedra and Medea, and later Lady Macbeth joins them on stage. The humor is biting–the notion of Medea killing her brother and cutting his body into pieces before later killing her children when Jason abandons her for a younger woman was a bit too much for this audience; as is Phaedra’s insistence she was under a spell from Aphrodite and that was why she claimed her stepson raped her, and on and on.

Smart, funny, and witty–I love this story.

And now back to the spice mines.