I'm writing this to you from a hotel in West Virginia. After a big family dinner on Thanksgiving, I decided to get out for a few days, and I've enjoyed it so much that I've extended my trip for one day more. So far, I've done a lot of sleeping and hiking with my dog. I also got a few more stamps for my Passport to Your National Parks, which I say again to get if you want to see more of your country and/or do a lot of road trips.
I'm working my way back to being in the kind of writing shape I used to be in before things fell apart. A lot of this year (and even before that) was about just trying to hang on. The summer trip was great, and I worked when I could, but I have not been putting in the hours on my personal stuff and explorative writing that sometimes becomes essays and, in at least one instance, a book. My brain has been so clouded with grief and stress and – yes still – depression – that I've battled to get done the work that pays my bills and couldn't even think about trying to do more (and when I did try, I wrote crap. I was in a bad spot and also probably trying to write about things too soon after they happened, which rarely works. This is my one exception, and I was in physical pain while writing it). This month, for the first time in a long time, I hit my billing goal (I try to bill X per month). I'm still daunted by the idea of picking a new place to live, but I'm starting to feel all that junk break up and clear out and hope to get back into a writing groove again – either that or I'm just blissed out from driving and hiking, two things that give me great joy, hence why I'm in West Virginia right now.
What I'm Reading
First, I finished Woman in the Shadows by Jane Thynne. I read the Clara Vine novels out of order, but it doesn't really matter. It's about a half English/half German actress who is living in Berlin in the run up to WW II. These books are excellent spy books, but also frightening because of the parallel to what's going on today. So if you're looking to escape the news, these may not be the best books to read right now.
And today I finished Three Junes by Julia Glass. I found this in a Little Free Library – what a gem, and yes it won the National Book Award for a reason. It came out 15 years ago and I want all of my friends to read it so we can talk about it! it's three different overlapping stories – a narrative structure that's so common now it's almost a cliche – and so beautiful that it made me worry I'll never be able to write like that ever. One of the storylines is about a gay man whose friend is dying of AIDS. Right before I finished the book, I listened to this episode of Nancy, an LGBTQ-themed podcast, that had two HIV+ men of two generations talk about their lives. Both the book and the podcast reminded me of The Impossible Lives of Greta Wells, where the main character travels through time, a book that very clearly compared the 1918 flu epidemic to the AIDS crisis. I know this is one I need to read more on. These three things are a pretty good start.
I haven't picked what's next. I brought a few books with me but then I picked up two more at this bookstore that used to be a bank. I will never not have a large stack of "to-read" books close by.
What I'm Watching
Quick hit review time:
- LEGO Batman. The LEGO Movie was better, but I'm not mad I watched this.
- The Heat. I've seen this before, but I'm glad I watched it again. It also makes me want to re-watch SPY, which is way better than most people give it credit for.
- Red Oaks. The third (and sadly) final season of this Amazon Prime series has a sexual harassment storyline that feels paired with the avalanche of these stories in the news (though obviously wasn't timed that way). Ladies, if your man isn't supporting you in talking about this things, first dump him. JK I know that's now always possible. But also if he wants to know why this happens and see an example of it: watch this show. It's a pretty straight forward and easy to talk about story line. And also disgusting because that dude's a jerk.
- The Durrels in Confru. It's a pretty historical drama set in Greece. How could I say no?