Howard Hughes and the Butchery of Spring Chickens

And it rained all damn day. An ugly, chilly drizzle. Our high was a miserly 71˚F, and it's now 69˚F. Tomorrow will be almost as bad.

Oh, but yes, it was my birthday. And the morning was actually pretty good, though I didn't sleep much last night. This morning I opened presents and watched my favorite parts of Frozen II and...then I was utterly underwhelmed by the new "Living Story" chapter of GW2 and everything went to hell. Okay, I don't think I can actually blame GW2. There was also having to put my foot down and telling a publisher no, I will not learn Acrobat to deal with an electronic ARC. And there was the aforementioned rain. And a thousand other murderously depressingly things which shall here not be named, all catching up with me at once. So, I kind of slipped after about 1 p.m. or so. But Spooky made Dreamland chicken and taters and corn and there was a modest cake with one candle and we watched a bunch of RuPaul's Drag Race. I wouldn't say I feel better now, but I'm calm.

And it makes me feel shitty. All the people who wished me well today and who sent me gifts and Spooky did so much and...I just couldn't feel great all day.

I think that's enough for now.

Aunt Beast

6:30 p.m.

"If birds can fly over the rainbow..."

A sunny, hottish day. We made it to 89˚F, with the heat index at 90˚F. Currently, it's 77˚F.

And in another 32 minutes I will be 56 years old.

How fucked up is that?

To turn 56, and to do it during this mess? My Grandma Ramey, she turned 4 during the first year of the Spanish influenza epidemic in 1918.

And it was Memorial Day. And I spent a lot of the day thinking about that. Behind the cut is yesterday's tin soldier, as we found him. Only today did the significance of finding him a day before Memorial Day occur to me.

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Anyway, that was today.

Aunt Beast

10:29 p.m.

"Stay away from the future. Back away from the light."

A sunny early summer day, without the expected thunderstorms. We reached 90˚F, with the heat index at 91˚F. Currently it's 75˚F.

Today was not the day I got back to work. And it won't be tomorrow, and likely not Tuesday (my birthday), but maybe it will be Wednesday.

Pursuant to the "not writing, not working" problem, I posted the following to Facebook this evening:

I'm having a great deal of difficulty these days performing the most basic day-to-day functions that any working author with no other source of income HAS to perform. If you read my blog, you know this. But it just sort of hit me, like a pile of bricks. Never mind that I can't write. A publisher or editor makes a simple or a relatively simple request, and I let it sit for weeks before I finally force myself to deal with it. I've supported myself as an author since 1995, but this is the hardest it has ever been to motivate myself to do the job...and it has often been hard.

Which kinda speaks for itself.

We had a walk today around the building. I found a very, very old tin solder that the last thunderstorm had washed from the earth. It was missing both legs below the knees. The costume on it looks WWI or WWII. This building has stood since 1933. It could certainly be either. I wonder how long it lay there? Later, we finished the latest re-watch of Season 1 of Twin Peaks. And this morning I finished my latest re-reading of William Kennedy's Ironweed. I then began the second book in his Albany trilogy, Billy Phelan's Greatest Game.

That toy soldier, though. How long ago was it lost? In what decade? To what child? And is that child long since dead or are they still alive and, if so, how old?

That was today.

Aunt Beast

11:16 p.m.

"I make a home inside the wind. Stars are burning in the west."

Another fine early summer day. We reached 88˚F, with a heat index of 91˚F. And then the thunderstorm came, though far less violent than yesterday's. Currently it's 71˚F.

So, I'm going to try something different. My "lockdown" began, as I have said, on Monday March 16th, and I have spent it behaving as if this is all some momentary inconvenience that will soon pass us by. There was still the anxiety and depression and all, but when it began I believed we were in for maybe a six-week quarantine*. And...this is not coming out at all like I heard it in my head, waiting for my dinnertime can of soup to heat. Basically, let's just say I'm gonna do better. Here in late May I do not see an end to the pandemic in sight, whether cities reopen or not, and I've got to stop sitting around worrying myself into an even earlier grave, and I've also got to stop using Covid-19 as an excuse not to fucking work. Or allowing it to prevent me from working. Or whatever. I've got to go back to being me. The me I was on March 15th. That me. The me who writes and does paleontology and all that. Not the me who sits here staring at the walls. Not the me who lives in fear. The me who spent all those years telling people to kill their fear. I can social distance and wash my hands and wear my masks and...all that. But I also have to be me.

I'm going to get Sirenia Digest #171 out in the next few days, then I'm going to work on Interstate Love Song (yes, really). And some paleo' writing and work more bullshit. I can't sit around waiting for science to find a treatment for Covid-19 before I allow myself to be a productive member of society again.

Okay, that was about 45% as articulate as what I meant to say, but it gets the point across.

Oh, and I have to eat more, shattered tooth or no shattered tooth.

From my daily Facebook posts: It's a hard way to learn a lesson that we sort of already knew. Sweden's death rate is 8.71/1 million people, actually worse than that in the United States (4.59/1 million). So maybe now people will shut up about Sweden. It didn't work.

Today...well...not much. A short walk. Only coffee for breakfast. Again. A documentary about the role a coal fire may have played in the sinking of the Titanic and another on the Mary Celeste. Oh, and I had my first cigarette since, I think, last summer. I'd have had it sooner, but I got this pack of Camels last month and then couldn't find my lighter. And didn't want to buy a new one. But I found it yesterday, in a kitchen drawer. Also, that new design for the Camels box is fucking bullshit and hopefully it will soon be history. Oh, and there was a really weird episode of RuPaul's Dray Race, with all the queens streaming from home.

That was today.

Aunt Beast

4:59 p.m.

* Lockdown was spectacularly poor word choice for "sheltering in place" and it never should have been associated with Covid-19. You do not comfort people by using prison jargon. It does not work. Like that herd immunity thing in Sweden. Also, quarantine is simply inaccurate. You don't quarantine well people to keep them from getting sick. I don't know that there was a good word for what we've had to do. "Sheltering in place" sounds stupid when you could just say "stay home," but we do love to make language a complete impediment to understanding, don't we?

Blah Blah Blah Blah

A sunny, warm day that culminated in a titanic thunderstorm near sunset. Our high was 87˚F, and it is now 69˚F.

You really do not need recourse to conspiracy theories. You put a demented halfwit in charge of 3,796,742 square miles populated by 328,239,523+ human beings and, sooner or later, unless you're very lucky (yeah, right), something bad will happen. We should just be grateful it's only a pandemic. At least it wasn't a nuclear war (knocks on wood).

This afternoon I watched a documentary about atomic testing in Nevada.

Between stress, anxiety, and this shattered molar, the struggle to eat continues to wear me down. As I told Billy Martin earlier today, "Mammalian teeth are one of evolution's most inexplicable and regrettable foibles."

Later Taters,
Aunt Beast (old and increasingly toothless)

5:25 p.m. (Sunday)
Cordon C3

A May of Quarantine

Another oddly chilly day. We only reached 81˚F, and it's currently 73˚F.

But it was, generally speaking, a better day than yesterday. I exchanged emails with Bill Schafer and Jonathan Strahan. I saw the "digital ARCs" for The Tindalos Asset, and there's an abomination for you. "Digital ARCs." I watch a documentary about the sinking of the Lusitania. I began re-reading William Kennedy's Ironweed. I played GW2. I somehow managed to eat a plate of spaghetti without chewing once. We had a short walk.

Lana Del Rey continues to delight me.

And that's all I have on this grim night in May in the year of the plague. That and a prayer for a return to normalcy, a return to business as usual.

Aunt Beast

3:42 p.m.

"Look in the mirror and you see how you've been taken."

Sunny today, but only 78˚F. Currently, it's 67˚F.

I finished the re-read of Shirley Jackson's We Have Always Live in the Castle. My copy (well, one of my copies and the one in this photograph) was a gift from Peter Straub. It was signed by Jackson to Bernard Malamud in September 1962, who later donated it to the Bennington College Library. And at some point they actually got rid of it.

What else can I possibly say about a day that simply exploded in my face?

Aunt Beast

11:27 a.m.

“This must be where pies go when they die.”

Sunny today, but cooler. Our high was only 75˚F, and now it's only 62˚F.

But it was a better day. After working on it for a month, I finally I posted my playlist/soundtrack for Twin Peaks: Rocket 88, and I'll say more about Rocket 88 soon. I got word the the final CEM for The Tindalos Asset is inbound. I spoke with Jun from McWane, and that was good.

We spent the evening watching Twin Peaks and made it through the pilot and episodes 1-3.

Please have a look at this special eBay auction, a copy of The Dinosaur Tourist that I'm auctioning to raise a little money (a drop in the proverbial ocean) for the McWane Science Center, which has been closed since March 16th and will have lost $1.5 million in revenue by June 1st. Right now, this is what matters to me almost more than anything.

Aunt Best

4:25 p.m.

Two+ Months Later

The day began stormy, but it as sunny before twilight. We it to 84˚F toady. Currently, it's 69˚F.

And it's another of those "nothing to report days." Except that I went all the way to Publix with Kathryn, which is possibly the farthest from home that I've been since this nightmare began. Almost everyone was wearing a mask, and almost everyone was wearing their mask correctly. I got various things I think I can force myself to eat through the stress and whatnot.

I watched a documentary about the development of Fat Man and Little Boy and another about the Lockerbie bombing.

I neglected to say yesterday that I have begun re-reading We Have Always Live in the Castle. Though I think if you've read any book more than twice it's something more intimate than re-reading.

Please have a look at this special eBay auction, a copy of The Dinosaur Tourist that I'm auctioning to raise a little money (a drop in the proverbial ocean) for the McWane Science Center, which has been closed since March 16th and will have lost $1.5 million in revenue by June 1st. Right now, this is what matters to me almost more than anything.

Aunt Beast

5:28 p.m. (yesterday)

"I have seen what the darkness does."

So, today was about 45% of a decent day. And then there was all the rest of it, which varied between meh and only just endurable. And it was stormy all day. It's still storming. Or storming again. We had a break for a few hours. Our high was a paltry 80˚F, and it's currently only 67˚F.

Really, I'm not sure there's anything about to day that's worth putting down here.

Oh, I did have my first Zoom conversation. With sovay in Boston. It was the first time we'd spoken face-to-face (well, at least a simulacrum of face-to-face) since the summer of 2018. I do not like Zoom, but the interface is at least intuitive. I will never like "video conferencing," on principle, but it was good talking to her, regardless. Mostly we talked about the plague.

I ate a can of soup for dinner. Most of what I'm eating is coming out of cans. Or it's bottles of mysterious high-protein crap like Muscle Milk and Core Power. Or Kraft mac and cheese.

Spooky cut my hair, which is pretty much just shaving the sides and back. If I had two eyes, I could probably manage it myself.

We had a long walk near sunset, between storms, the longest walk I've had in months. I'll regret it in the morning.

Aunt Beast

5:16 p.m.