Tues. July 28, 2020: Die for Tourist Dollars Day 69 — Maskhole Rant, Che Guevara Chipmunk, and Writing

sun-3588618_1920
image courtesy of jplenio via pixabay.com

Tuesday, July 28, 2020
Waxing Moon
Pluto Retrograde
Saturn Retrograde
Jupiter Retrograde
Neptune Retrograde
Hot and humid

I hit a level of burnout on Thursday afternoon and into Friday. I was just done.

But, of course, when one is the breadwinner, not coping is not an option.

From Masshole to Maskhole
Plenty of people from Massachusetts are not well-liked (often even in their own state). “Masshole” is the common term. But far too many are now also Maskholes – refusing to wear the mask properly or at all. To be fair, they’re not just from around here – the tourists are even worse.

Virus cases are on the rise in this area. No surprise. Some dimwit in Chatham had a party with 50 people, no masks, no distancing. At least half the partygoers have tested positive since that party. They are trying to figure out how many people THOSE people infected Elected officials moan and say there’s nothing they can do because it happened on “private property.” Yes, they can. Charge the party-thrower with criminal negligence. Anyone who got infected by someone at the party should have all health costs paid by the person who infected them.

A good portion of the attendees were restaurant workers. Yeah, so how’s all that Phase III-IV on-site dining working for everyone, huh?

On Saturday morning, I did a quick errand. The drive home was 3 miles from store to home, along the beachfront. I passed about 150 people (I stopped counting at 127). Over the course of three miles.

4 of them were masked.

FOUR.

You can’t social distance when there are that many people in that small an area. Not that they were even trying. Many of them walked in packs, or hung out as their pack met another pack. No masks, no distancing. And yeah, not even pretending they give a fuck by having one around their neck or in their pocket.

I can’t go for a walk in my own neighborhood because the fucktards roam in maskless packs. All those people who claim they’re “safe” when they take a walk or walk the dog because “nobody’s around” or “there’s plenty of room” or “I cross the street” or “we’re good at social distancing” – I don’t believe you. They’re saying the same things here every day. Praising themselves to the sky for being so responsible and careful. I watch every day and it is not happening. No masks. No social distancing. You need BOTH. You need to wear a mask AND social distance. What part of this is an airborne virus do you not understand? Being outside doesn’t negate that. “Oh, but I’m just walking the dog, it’s early, no one’s around” – yeah, so are 15 other people and you’re stopping to chat and pet each other’s dogs and hang out and you’re only about a foot apart. Wear your damn mask when you leave your property. Keep it on – properly on, not pretend on — until you return.

If you NEED to be out and about – wear the damn mask.

If you WANT to be out and about – wear the damn mask.

It’s not hard. Yes, it’s inconvenient, and the first ten minutes are uncomfortable. So?

The level of selfishness is just disgusting.

The stats are that we have 100,000 extra people so far on Cape Cod. I don’t want to hear one word from businesses about how slow business is. Every place around here is packed. Plus, almost every business I know got either a PPP loan or an SBA loan or both. We have heightened travel rules in place as of the first of the month per the governor about 14-day quarantines and fines of $500/day. Too many aren’t even doing the mandated masking and social distancing. No one’s going to enforce a damn thing.

The bridges are backed up every damn day and unbearable from Friday to Monday again like every summer weekend. People aren’t quarantining here. They come in for the day, spread the virus, leave. They’re not being careful, even if they pretend they are so they can feel all righteous about it. Yes, the travel restrictions are not as firm from New England states and New York and New Jersey because those states have controlled it FOR THE MOMENT. But many, MANY of these plates are from high-risk states. They’re not complying with quarantine. The places they’re renting aren’t requiring it. They’re just taking the money and looking the other way.

There are businesses requiring people follow the mask mandate and distancing, etc. They’re truly trying to make it work and keep people as safe as possible. But plenty of businesses look the other way when the tourist twat walks in and immediately pulls the mask down around their neck.

We’re going to need to be in lockdown all damn winter because people are so damn selfish and lazy, while claiming they’re being responsible. I’m talking genuine lockdown, where maybe you can leave your property once a week for an hour to go grocery shopping. It’s going to make this spring look like a cakewalk.

We could have had the virus under control and be back to a modicum of normal without much danger – like New Zealand and Iceland and Europe – but instead, it’s getting worse. People are lying to themselves and each other about it.

The positive spin that’s being put on everything here and WHAT IS ACTUALLY HAPPENING are far apart. But people are buying into the spin, which means things are moving even farther apart.

I am very, very glad I was wrong that we would hit the 250,000 death toll mark by July 4th. But I doubt I’m wrong about the next lockdown. And so much of this could have been prevented. So much of it still can be prevented, but won’t, due to selfishness on personal and nationwide levels, and greed.

I’m sick of it.

No wonder I’m feeling burned out. If I didn’t have to leave the property at all, I could just shrug it off. I mean, on human level, I’d still be angry at the sheer level of selfishness and I’d still be working with my elected officials on various legislation, but I could stay in my little book-lined tower and keep my family safe.

Chop Wood, Carry Water
I mailed off my passport renewal materials for the third damn time. Let’s hope they actually renew it this time. The first time, last fall, when the rumors about no more passport renewals started, it was returned because it was “too early to renew.” When I tried in March, it was “returned to sender” with “office closed due to COVID-19” scrawled on the envelope.

Even if we’re banned from entering other countries, I need my passport. I hate being separated from it.

Saturday morning, the cats got me up way too early. Fed them, watered the front and back gardens, lawns, and the meadow out back. Changed the beds, did two loads of laundry, did a run to the store that carries the white cranberry-peach juice and some gelato for the heat wave. Full disinfectant protocols (not letting up on them any time soon). Sorted the boxes and bags in the quarantine area of the garage – some went downstairs to be used, some put aside for other use, some into recycling). Washed all the reusable grocery bags and disinfected them.

The ban on reusable bags has been lifted in the state, but most grocery stores sill ask that people not use them. Still, I thought it would be a good idea to disinfect all the bags.

Paid end-of-month bills.

The neighbor across the street has his very own small bulldozer. Yup. Drove it around the neighborhood to show it off on Friday. Saturday, he brought in a truckload of gravel and dumped it next to his garage (which faces our front yard). Then he started leaf blowing the gravel. Which is a stupid move on multiple levels, but it also sent clouds of gravel dust across to us, and I had to close the windows (on a hot day, with no air conditioning) so we didn’t choke on the dust.

His parents must not have bought him Tonka Trucks as a child, and he’s making up for it now.

All he ever does is use heavy machinery, make noise, and destroy. There’s never building anything beautiful – just cutting down trees or leaf blowing gravel.

My neighbor next door is awfully fond of his power tools, too – but he builds. A firepit, a three-season room, a shed for his nifty tools. Also, he does it during reasonable hours, and it’s never for long stretches. I don’t mind even the power tools, because the energy is so different – it’s CONstructive, not Destructive.

Sunday morning, I was up early again to water. I don’t have a sprinkler system, and I don’t want to do the putting green thing, but I also want the yard to be healthy. Right now, we haven’t rain for a bit, and it needs a drink.

Che Guevara Chipmunk is back. I didn’t put out the bird bath this year (because it’s 2020 and West Nile or some other plague would come by, too). But I’ve been putting out a big dog dish of water out back, and changing it three times a day. Che Guevara Chipmunk comes by the drink out of it and tell me the news. And the birds like it, too. We had some melon that was getting squishy, so I put it out back and the murder of crows dashed from the front yard and gobbled it all up. Who knew crows like cantaloupe?

Friday morning, when I sat on the deck with my first coffee and my writing, a bat dropped down from the roof of the covered deck and then flew away. Startled me, but I like bats, so I’m good with it. If he (or she) comes back, the bat gets a name!

I got a spam call on my cell from Russia. Uh, yeah, that’s a block.

Monday, I was out early to water. This morning, I was out early and did just over an hour of yardwork from just after 5 AM to nearly 6:30. It’s been brutally hot and humid. 102 degrees in Hyannis yesterday, 94 degrees here, a few miles away. We’re still a little cooler because we haven’t cut down all our trees.

But there are poor air quality warnings up. On Cape Cod. Can you imagine? We moved here for healthy sea air. But it’s been clear cut of trees so badly and overbuilt so badly and with the tourists flowing in DURING A PANDEMIC, we have poor air quality.

The virus is delighted.

But with fans going and staying quiet in the worst of it, it’s bearable. Even without air conditioning. So far.

Shall I mention that the furnace was supposed to be replaced by the owner last year before Thanksgiving, and he was going to add coils for air conditioning? And it still hasn’t happened?

Writing. Oh yeah, there’s writing. And Reading
I got about half the revision of VISCERAL INVISIBLES done. Still trying to come up with another title, although a part of me kind of likes this one.

Shaped the review for the book I read. Sent it off yesterday morning, along with the invoice. Yay, money!

I read a wonderful book by Fenton Johnson, AT THE CENTER OF ALL BEAUTY: SOLITUDE AND THE CREATIVE LIFE. It’s quite wonderful. As someone who is, by nature, solitary, and needs a lot of solitude even within the context of relationships, the book speaks to me on multiple levels.

Catching up on the issues of THE NEW YORKER. There’s always so much good information there, and stellar writing (even if I don’t always agree with the pieces). The latest issues re-runs earlier profiles – Toni Morrison, Larry Kramer, etc. – it’s interesting to see how much I’ve changed since they first came out. How much I’ve learned.

Actually got to sit outside and enjoy the deck for an hour here and there, in between neighbors and their power tools and heavy machinery. And they’re still setting off the fucking illegal fireworks most nights.

Also reading Donna Leon’s non-Brunetti mystery, THE JEWELS OF PARADISE, which is interesting.

My mother is reading Chris Cavender’s pizza-lover’s mysteries, and really likes them. I will read them soon (while she finishes reading the Vivien Chien series). We have one more Brunetti book to read, the one that came out during Stay-at-home, and then we’ll start reading the Gamache series in order (re-read for me). It’s fun to read a long series together in order and talk about the books.

Did some planning for the Gambit Colony books. Will get back to them once I’m done with this draft of BARD’S LAMENT.

Worked on the Topic Workbooks.

I’m working on the Grief to Art website, but it takes a lot out of me, and is thereby taking more time than I’d like. With nearly 150,000 dead, we need a site for collective mourning.

Did a quick proof read of the WINNER TAKE ALL screenplay and sent it to my friend, who has time to read it this week.

I was at the office for a few hours yesterday for a client, by myself, which was perfect. I’m still far more productive from my home office even than in an empty office, but if I have to be in an office, I’d rather it was empty. I do some client work before it gets too hot. When it heats up, I have to shut down the computer; it doesn’t function well in heat and humidity. Plus, I figure the power’s bound to go off at some point.

Have a safe week, and try to stay cool, if you can. Mentally and physically. Peace.

Wed. May 8, 2013: A Harsh Reality of a Writer’s Life

IMG_1071

Wednesday May 8, 2013
Dark Moon
Saturn Retrograde
Cloudy and cool

I have a post up on Gratitude and Growth about the ups and downs of the latest plantings. I hope you stop by and leave a comment.

I’m going to talk today a bit about the harsh reality of an author’s life, and the unrealistic expectations of part-time writers or non-writers put onto a writer.

I’m glad everyone enjoys the manuscript prep tips. Daily mailings like this take a LOT of time to put together, so it can only be something done sporadically. Because writing is my business and not my hobby, and how I pay the bills, what’s offered for free needs to generate enough new business to pay for more similar “events”. If it winds up being financially successful as well as building good will, I can do more. If people don’t buy my books and recommend my services, and it doesn’t generate new income, then I have to do something else that will INSTEAD of being able to put together another event like this. It’s that simple. Use the tips; land slots with publishers or magazines (I’ve created the tips because I genuinely want other writers to succeed — when one of us does well, it helps ALL of us); recommend my work as something that helped along the way, which will then generate new business for me, so I can afford to take the hours it requires to put together another event like this, offering a series of free useful things. Recommend my books (the novels and the Topic Workbooks) IF you like them and find them helpful. The income from book sales help pay the bills.

The time it takes to put together something like the daily mailing is the equivalent to writing about three chapters, and then the time it takes to do the daily mailing is the equivalent of about two pages’ worth of time each day. All of that is time away from my own, income-generating work. If it’s not my own work that’s put aside, it means it’s time away from a freelance writing or proofreading gig that will pay the electric bill for the month or get in that week’s groceries.

“Free” to you has cost to me — beyond just the time it takes to put together and the time away from my own work. It directly affects the bills. Eventually, it has to even out, or I can’t do it.

Would I write anyway with a “day job”? I did for many years, earning the right to be a full-time writer. When I left Broadway to be a full-time writer, I’d hit the crossroads where I could no longer do both. I HAD to make a decision. I chose writing. The harder of the two choices, but it also means I have to make more ruthless decisions and make sure I can pay my bills working at my PROFESSION.

That is the reality of a professional writer’s life. We pay the bills with our work, the same way the lawyer, the accountant, and the plumber do. That’s why it’s so important for those who label themselves “writer” to limit how much they write for “exposure” (when National Grid lets me pay my bills with “exposure”, I’ll be able to write for “exposure”), AND writers need to stop working for content mills, turning out dozens of articles a week for pennies and/or maybe/someday pay-per-click payments.

I want to write stories that people love and respond to. But if they don’t buy my books, I have to find another way to make a living. That doesn’t mean I’ll get a day job and write at night. It means I change careers. If people request a class, and I take the time to put it together and schedule it, it means I have turned down other paying work. If people then don’t sign up for the class, I’ve still put in that time and lost that other work, and now I have to hustle OTHER work to pay the bills — I don’t have the time or the financial cushion to re-schedule the class when it’s “convenient” — because, nine times out of ten, the people who wail the loudest about wanting/needing the class still won’t sign up for it, because they don’t want it badly enough to rearrange their schedules to do it. It’s not a priority for them. It’s something they’ll do if they have nothing better to do, including paint toe nails and watch reality TV. They don’t really want to be in a writing class that makes them actually, well, WRITE. It means the material is not in demand — therefore, there is no reason for me to offer it. That’s the way it works. I am the sole breadwinner in the family. I don’t have a husband or a trust fund to pay the bills. It’s all on ME.

If you like an author’s work — any author’s work, not just mine — go out there and buy books and post Amazon reviews and talk about the books on social media, so that said author can land another contract and write more books. Because if the author has to go get a job at McDonald’s or something else — to change careers — chances are, the other books won’t get written. Or, they might, but instead of being able to write a book a year or a book every two years, it might be a book every three or five, and few publishers and agents are going to invest in someone who can’t turn out regular content (yet too many publishers still don’t do their share in partnering with their authors to make sure the sales figures are high). We’re all on tight budgets — don’t cause yourself harm, or spend more than you can afford. But do whatever is in your power to encourage the people making the decisions to keep hiring the authors.

That’s reality.

Back to yesterday:

Many thanks to Donna Alward, who I met at the Let Your Imagination Take Flight Conference. She writes at an amazing rate, working for one of the Harlequin lines, and also has a series of novellas out with Samhain. I happened to run across her on Twitter yesterday morning, when I was poking around not doing what I needed to do. She challenged us to an hour-long sprint 1K in one hour. I jumped at the chance. I did just over 1600 words in just under an hour, finishing the fourth chapter of LEADING OPPORTUNITIES. This is from Elliot’s, my male protag’s, POV, and it took some interesting turns. I like him a lot more than I originally envisioned. I mean, of course, my heroine has to adore him, but in the initial planning, he was a bit more of a dick than he is now. There’s still room for him to grow, but he’s more receptive to his surroundings (and still, loyal to a fault).

Worked with students, got some pitches out. Then, it was off to the Marine Life Center, and from there, on to New Bedford, to Gallery X, where the Marine Life Center may partner with the gallery for an exhibit in mid-June. The space is exciting. I wish I had the capacity at this point to create a piece for the exhibit. I’d love to do some soft sculpture, but I don’t think I can make it the priority it would need to be in order to get it done on time. I might do a mixed media words-and-image piece.

We then had lunch at No Problemo, which was really good. All in all, a lovely day.

On the way home, I started percolating on the new play — I have to submit ten pages by the end of the month — I realized that my initial opening and images are a different play than the original theme I intended. I need to separate those out and decide which play I’m writing NOW.

Spent some time reading on the deck. Both Tessa and Iris were in the enclosure. Iris has decided she’s missing out by staying inside, so now she wants to come out, as long as Tessa is close by (even though they stay as far apart as possible in the enclosure). I applied flea and tick medicine to all of them, so we’re covered in that arena.

Today, I have to work in the yard before the rain starts, do my 1K on LEADING OPPORTUNITIES, work on the non-fiction, work on the adaptation, and start ripping apart the book I finished on Sunday for revisions (I have only about 10 days to get this revision done). Early this evening, I have a Mermaid Ball meeting at the Marine Life Center.

So I better get going!

Devon

December 31, 2010 — New Year’s Eve

Friday, December 31, 2010
Waning Moon
Neptune Retrograde
Cloudy and mild
New Year’s Eve

I can’t believe this year is over, and it’s been quite a roller coaster of a year!

If you’d like to see my evaluation for 2010, which I thought would be depressing, but actually turned out to be quite enlightening (for me), hop on over to the Goals, Dreams, and Resolutions blog, which has been sorely neglected in the past few months.

My back kind of limited a lot of activity yesterday. I had to do a bunch of paperwork dealing with various transitional business — really, most of these companies are staffed by morons. There are enough people looking for work that companies should dump the incompetent and hire the intelligent. Oh, wait, that would mean they had to pay people a fair wage for a fair day’s work and the intelligent might actually question the corporation’s culture of screwing the public, and that would never do!

But the auto insurance kerflamma is sorted out. Turns out they sent the bill BEFORE they checked my driving record, and it’s even less than the original quote, thanks to me being a careful driver in the past (and now I have the pressure to continue)!

Paid a bunch of bills, so I can go into the New Year without bills hanging over my head.

Played with the cats, who wanted attention.

Filled the car to bursting with garbage and recycling and took it all to the dump. 80% of our garbage is recycling — we really generate very little stuff for the landfill, which is good.

Went grocery shopping and spent far more than I intended — I thought when you have a list you stay under budget? Even with a list, I bought more than I thought I would — and I stuck to the list! Also stocked up on some wine for next week. For a state with such tight blue laws, they have a lot of awesome wine shops around here!

I was in so much pain in the morning that I considered a trip to the emergency room. But, again, it would be a lot of money and tests and all they can do is give me a stronger painkiller, which doesn’t solve the problem. Alleve did NOTHING, didn’t even take the edge off, and neither did Excedrin. Spent most of the afternoon lying on the couch reading, with a heating pad on my back.

Yet another customer service person from Verizon told me that they “can’t” do anything to help me unless I buy the blocker. I ignored them, and I think I’ve finagled it so that it’s blocked — I’m not getting messages every 15 seconds any more.

Costume Imp and I are getting next week figured out — it’s going to be a lot of fun.

Saw a lovely rocking chair for sale for a great price on Craigslist – I was hoping to pick it up today, but haven’t heard back from the owner. If I can’t get it today, it’ll have to be next week, and they’ll probably sell it to someone else. Oh, well. I’ll either get it or I won’t.

The appliance repair place called and will come today to fix the washer. I can do laundry here before the New Year! I hate starting the new year with dirty clothes!

I also want to do my hair today — I want to start the New Year with shiny hair AND clean clothes!

My hurricane cylinders arrived yesterday (they weren’t scheduled to arrive until Monday) and this time, the UPS guy HANDED me the box instead of throwing it from the truck. Which is good, since they’re glass. They are beautiful. They fit the candlestands perfectly, although they’re taller than I expected, but look great. I washed them last night, let them dry and they’re up now. It will make things safer.

I’m looking forward to a nice, cozy celebration here at home tonight (I’m not big on New Year’s shindigs, and I don’t have to be banned from my own home until 1 AM, like I was in NYC). Yes, when I lived a block from Times Square, if I left the house after 6 PM, I was not allowed back in until after 1 AM, even though I lived there! Isn’t that awful? I usually had a show on New Year’s Eve (thankfully, most shows now only do a matinee), and then I was forced to go to a party. I don’t like New Year’s Eve — too much forced joviality for me — I like to celebrate quietly at home with one or two people.

Once I moved out of the city and wasn’t working full-time anymore, I refused to accept work for New Year’s. I did a yoga retreat upstate for several years, which was great. After that year where I was on the train when the year turned, I decided no more of other people deciding how I start my year!

So, I’ve got some errands to run today, and the repairman to wait for, and my hair to do, and some shelves to put up in the basement to sort the dishes I don’t need every day, some writing to do, and then enjoy sweeping the old year out of the back door and welcoming the New Year in the front!

I’ve got my bayberry candle for tonight; my bayberry incense for tonight and tomorrow, and the stuff I need for the dawn ceremony I do on New Year’s.

I want a peaceful end to this year and a quiet, fun start to 2011!

Happy New Year!

Devon