November 27, 2022

And another long Thanksgiving weekend draws to a close. I’m lying here in bed losing a battle against napping. Perhaps it’s Oliver tucked up against me snoring away. Binx, the ghost cat, will sometimes get up on the bed with us as well but he still won’t come near me and if I make any motion in his direction, he immediately hightails it under the bed for the next quarter of an hour. It’s an improvement over hiding in the fireplace or under the shelves in the guest closet all day I suppose. Someday he may figure out I mean him no harm and am the source of all kitty treats. In the meantime, cat behavior is simply what it is.

Nothing too outrageous happened over my off days. I had two Thanksgiving meals, one with Tommy’s family and one with friends, stuffing myself to the gills and making eating on Friday entirely unnecessary. Good food, good conversation, good company. What more could one want? The rest of the weekend was spent in a combination of torpor, household tasks such as prepping all of my mail out copies of Volume II for a trip to the post office this next week. I also got the family Christmas shopping done so I could put together the traditional gift basket for shipping to Seattle. I have become the dotty old uncle that gives everyone a book. It solves a number of problems when shopping for family whom I do not see all that often: there’s a fairly infinite selection, it’s unlikely to be duplicative, and they’re easy to wrap. This last is not necessarily the least. Wrapping has never been my strong suit. Both Steve and Tommy were quite skilled and could make packages worthy of high end store windows. (Steve’s first career was as the window display designer for the Sears in Santa Monica back in the 1960s). Mine come out lumpy, uneven and dog eared, no matter how hard I try. I did, however learn a few tricks from Tommy regarding the construction of gift baskets. Three bookstores and done. And I made it through my Christmas shopping safe from Whamageddon and Mariah Carey.

I had my first reading today from Volume II at East Lake United Methodist Church as a benefit for their theater program, The Belltower Players (so called as the church building has a rather massive belfry that can be seen from all over that part of town). I’ve been a friend of the church for some years. Someone, I can no longer remember who, suggested I audition for Scrooge in their production of A Christmas Carol some years ago and I’ve been popping in and out ever since, most recently with The Hallelujah Girls this last fall and I am directing Dearly Departed there in January and February of this coming year. The audience was mainly friends so I didn’t have to sell myself, just read and let my words of a year or two ago speak for me. They were very receptive. I’m still amazed at how something I dashed off one evening with minimal thought causes someone to have an emotional response months or years after the fact. Let’s face it, I’m still surprised that these books exist as I had no intention of writing them. If anyone would like to arrange a reading/signing with me as a benefit or just because you’d like to see me appear at your local bookstore, slip into my DMs. I also strongly encourage those of you who want to read this new book to order it through your local bookstore and ask when you order, if they’d get another copy or two and put it on one of their display shelves.

This begs the question of what do I write next? The Accidental Plague Diaries are drawing to a close with the receding of the pandemic in public and social consciousness. The pandemic isn’t over, but the wrenching social changes and huge impacts on health care that marked the last few years have levelled out giving me a lot less to write about on the Covid front. Mind you, we could have a huge resurgence this winter, there could be a new mutation that does something highly unpleasant, or there might be a socio-political development that sends things spinning in a new direction but unless any of these things are overwhelming, I’m pretty much done. There are 790 pages published, an unknown number in Volume III, and when you have over 1,000 pages devoted to anything, you’re just getting repetitive.

I am in the habit of writing 2500-3000 words a week so I think I need to keep that up as a form of self discipline. Do I return to the book on the impact of the Baby Boom on the health care system? (That seems a bit redundant as most of what I was going to say in it came out in The Accidental Plague Diaries in one form or another). Do I take my Mrs. Norman Maine film reviews (sadly neglected these last few months) and edit them into a cohesive whole? Do I try my hand at a work of fiction? If I do, should I write a genre piece (murder mystery? fantasy? romance?) or something more general. My fiction prose tends to be lightly satirical, similar in style to Patrick Dennis or Armistead Maupin, but what would be the subject? Senior living? The social constructs of greater Birmingham? Academic health centers and their internal politics?

There are several things I did not do this weekend despite good intentions. I have not yet broken out the holiday decorations or decided how much of them I’m going to use. I put them all up at Christmas 2020 so I know how to make them work in the condo but the process of hauling all those boxes and bins out of the basement storage and getting things arranged just strikes me as exhausting at the moment. I also have not completed my CME for the year and that must be done before Christmas or the powers that be will come after me with a stick. I know what I need to do to finish them up. I just have to make myself do it. Likely a long dull Saturday afternoon sometime. In the meantime, you all know the drill. Get your booster, wash your hands, complete your licensure requirements.

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