The Good, the Bad, and the Oh Just Hell

I’m going to be missing most of this week on Argh (don’t worry, I’ll put the Wednesday and Thursday posts up) because, uh, I’m losing my mind, what little there was left of it. But because people have asked in the comments and in private . . .

I also have an ancient T-shirt somewhere that’s this:

Or there’s my fave light bulb joke: “How many mothers does it take to change a light bulb?” “It’s all right, I’ll just sit here in the dark.”

So, from the dark side (I have no cookies but I did eat an entire pumpkin pie this week):

The Good:

My country is (please please) going through a metamorphosis that will result in a better future for everybody.

The weather here is glorious and sitting in the side yard listening to the wind in the trees is better than valium.

I still have Diet Coke.

The Bad:

I have been all over god’s little acre trying to get legal docs notarized, but since we’re (a) rural as all hell and (b) an hour away from the epicenter of the virus, nothing with a notary is open in either of the two towns I’ve tried. Heard a rumor that the UPS store one town over has a notary. It reminds me of trying to score mescaline back in the day.

My brother has sold the family home, and when he told me I thought, If you’d left that to me, I’d have burned it to the ground and salted the ashes. So clearly I have some childhood issues to deal with there. Fortunately, I have Jamie the Therapist every Thursday.

Donald Trump just sent me a letter saying he was delighted to give me $127 in stimulus funds in the enclosed gift card. There was no gift card. Does that guy ever not lie?

I’m going to put Nita on hold until I can deal with it the context of what’s happening now. Now is not a good time to have a cop protagonist or a plot about discrimination and race written by aa clueless white person. Also my brain hurts when I think about it.

More Good (because I don’t like ending on Bad):

He Wrote She Wrote Again goes live on Saturday, and yes I will post the link here. We’ve got eighteen weeks planned, but we’re also adapting as we go because we’ve both changed a lot in fourteen years, so who knows what it will be. It is not monetized, although it’s a free WordPress blog and they keep putting little boxes in the posts that say there might be ads there. If those turn out to be annoying, we’ll pay the ransom.

I’m thinking my fiction is increasingly irrelevant, but my teaching isn’t, so I’m going back to the writing book I’ve been planning for decades. I’m good at teaching writing.

Oh Just Hell
Did you know that after an extraction/implant/bone graft you have to sleep sitting up? You haven’t seen cranky until you’ve seen me without sleep.

More Good:
Milton, Veronica, Mona, and I are now going out to the side yard to sit in the late afternoon light (beautiful light) and listen to the breeze, and count our blessings, which are many and include all of you.

Also word of advice, avoid oral surgery during a pandemic uprising financial recession that comes right after your mother’s death. There’s multi-tasking and then there’s just being an idiot.

72 thoughts on “The Good, the Bad, and the Oh Just Hell

  1. I’m very glad you’re fine, and enjoying the weather. Hopefully, you aren’t hurting too much.

    We got a letter indicating we’d gotten a stimulus payment. The letter came today, while the check arrived a couple of weeks ago. I’ve also heard that for some, the payment came in an unmarked white envelope in the form of a debit card. Many people had accidentally tossed this as looking to be a scam of some sort. So, if you didn’t get yours, perhaps look through the mail – or contact someone.

    1. Ours came from the IRS with a letter inside that had a White House heading and signed by DJT. Enough said.

    2. Check came and then like a week and a half letter, that stupid letter arrived. I tore it to shreds before I threw it away. As I told a friend, I would have lit it on fire if I wasn’t worried about dealing with the smoke detector. Ripping with my hands was more cathartic than using a shredder, I recommend it.

      1. I balled mine up and threw it across the room while cursing. Then I stepped on it. But I really think burning is the only way to truly exorcise it.

    3. I got a printed check from the Treasury Dept. a couple weeks ago, but no letter. Maybe the letter came and I thought it was junk mail. Which it would have been, in fact.

      Feel better soon, Jenny. We love you.

  2. I’m sorry you’re not feeling well. No sleep is the worst. 🙁

    But there is something I feel compelled to address. Your fiction is NOT irrelevant. NOT. Fiction is not required to be socially relevant. It can be, but it is not required. More important, your fiction (and other authors like you) are the only thing keeping me going through the insanity our world has become. Your fiction is ESSENTIAL. Not to say you must write if you don’t feel up to it, but never feel your stories are irrelevant. They make life brighter for more people than you can imagine.

    1. Also, you are not just good at teaching writing; you’re brilliant. But so is your fiction.

      1. It’s certainly helped keep me sane on several different levels – both re-reading my collection of Crusies, and having fun reading and playing along with Surprise Lily. The Argh crowd has also been very grounding in difficult times.

    2. Also Nita with her fierce protection of her island’s inhabitants seems to be exactly the kind of cop we need now. Or whenever you want to tell her story.

  3. NJ’s Governor signed a law (P.L. 2020, c.26) allowing notary services to be done online. If you contact your local public library, they may be able to put you in touch with someone who can do that for you.

    Hoping the good news continues to come your way.

    1. Oh, that’s great.
      It may not work in Ohio which is where this is going, but that is still great news. Thank you.

      1. I work for a financial institution in NY and we were given special permission (from the state ) to do notary services through the drive thru. You may be able to do that there. Also, I would call the UPS store before driving there; the one closest to where I work advertised that it offered notarial services but they didn’t actually have anyone on staff who could do them so they would refer them to us.

  4. Yeah, the not being able to lie down thing is terrible. It’s especially annoying in that I believe (although I haven’t seen any actual studies on it, and not sure how you’d study it ethically) that fatigue makes you less able to cope with pain, and at the same time pain makes you more tired, so they feed into each other to make both feel worse.

    I’m thinking maybe it’s time to resuscitate my caper manuscript. I’m drawn to the Gloria Steinem quote about quilting bees being revolutionary and trying to figure out how I can make that literal, with a quilt guild that’s partly a cover for an all-women (or mostly women, definitely mastermind = woman) Leverage-style righter of wrongs.

    I’ve already put on hold a post-apocalyptic series that’s written (two of three books at least), but now is just not the time for a story involving an unexplained and untreatable environmental disorder, even if otherwise it’s basically a cozy mystery. I tried to work on the third book, but even I couldn’t get interested in the post-apocalyptic world I’d created.

    1. I love the idea of a revolutionary quilting bees that actually sting the patriarchy- it sounds so fun! I look forward seeing the argh author post about this some day so I can read it.

  5. Hope you feel better, and don’t worry, we’ll be here when you return!

  6. Sounds like you are more than due a beautiful light. And don’t you have a water view at Crusie Estates? Glancing out over a ripple of water can be very calming if not mesmerizing. How long do you have to sleep in an upright position? I didn’t have anything compared to you but still my head felt like it was going to implode over the events from the past weeks, months highjerkerey of our leaders and those that signed on to protect and serve. Wishing you a speedy recovery.

    1. I have a water view down a cliff through a lot of trees. Essentially the place Fin threatened to throw Seb down.

  7. Ugggggggghhhhh! Too much to deal with at once! Massive sympathies. Maybe just get through the sleeping upright haze and the pain haze and then do a re-set? Now is probably not the time to be making any decisions more complicated than which pint of ice cream to eat for dinner (assuming that’s allowed)? Just take care of yourself and the kids in the fur suits and worry about the rest later…

    And especially don’t worry about Aargh. Just leave the keys on the counter and we’ll try to avoid swinging from the chandeliers and make sure to clean up the beer cans before you get back.

  8. relevance is overrated, said the woman reading a lot of just-post-WW II-mysteries.

    Sending love and restfulness.

  9. I think sometimes readers make their own relevance. I started reading your books in high school, and (other than Agnes) I didn’t notice how angry many Crusie heroines are. I got Body Positivity out of Bet Me, Sex Positivity out of Welcome to Temptation, and in general just the concept that Adults Get to Make Their Own Decisions, which, let me tell you, was pretty exciting to look forward to as a teenager. It wasn’t until I was older and getting to that part of life where I was pissed off at all the people who had hurt me and my friends that I started noticing the ways that Crusie heroines get to be angry. And that was cathartic to read.

    I don’t know if we get to decide what readers will find relevant when we’re writing fiction. I just think we get to pay attention to what excites us, and then decide if we are the right person to tell that story. And then, if we are, write that story with as much truth as we can and hope the book finds people who can get what they need out of it.

  10. Ugh. Jenny. You have my sympathy. Sleeping upright is not easy. After knee surgery I spent a few nights in the recliner. I kept telling myself if I could sit in an airline seat all the way to Australia then I could sleep upright in my own home. Hah.
    Now is not a good time to take on anything that requires effort. Treat yourself gently. Eat the pie. Do whatever you want. We’ll be patient.

  11. So, with everything going on, I had this idea for a SciFi book. It’s inspired by current events, Tom Clancy stuff and some David Weber. The Weber contribution is to use the common cold as a vector to distribute a virus that makes a tiny alteration to DNA, in this case, to the site that controls melanin (skin color, in particular). The Clancy parts are just locations and methods for spreading the disease initially. Sports venues and conventions, mainly. A new pandemic in 2021 that causes everyone’s skin color to become, well, black. The object would be a slow death to discrimination on that basis, but it wouldn’t be that simple, and it wouldn’t be instantaneous.

    I throw the idea out to the public domain.

  12. You may be feeling cranky, but your sense of humour is as clever as ever. Sleep or no sleep:)

    And, honestly, funny is important for health ergo your witty books are totally relevant. Seriously relevant. Recently I’ve been on a bend learning about how our brains work, and how they influence our health and the connection is staggering. Laughter isn’t just the best medicine, it’s essential oil for keeping our wires fired on all cylinders.

    That said, a book on writing would be fab, too.

    Meanwhile, hope you feel better soon. Happy resting:)

  13. Yeeeah, so. In a different commentariat, we offer hugs, space lasers, tea and whiskey. All of those sound useful along one or another axis.

  14. Looking forward to the he said she said thing. I wasn’t around the first time. I follow Bob on Facebook. A few times I have found him comforting during the pandemic and the uprising.
    And, of course, I always adore you!

  15. “uh, I’m losing my mind, what little there was left of it.”

    Me too.

    My mom has called me three times wanting to know where my tax info is. I sent it to her months ago when I was still fairly sane. FOR THE LOVE OF GOD DO NOT ASK ME TO FIND IT FOR YOU AGAIN NOW. My work has outright said there is nothing they can do to make anything less horrible. And one coworker demanded that I go to the office to figure out what all the keys they gave me open (I have no idea), which my boss at least shut down because HELL NO.

    Anyway, with you there on mind-losing. I hope all places get sensible and start doing online notarization (my state, alas, has not). Ridiculous. Hope you recover from dental hell as quickly as possible.

  16. Your books are like Mac & cheese-comforting. They make all the bad medicine we are having to choke down better. So there’s your relevance.

    But you are also an excellent teacher. As a reader, I pay more attention to the quality of not only books, but tv and movies. I don’t waste my time on subpar works. Ain’t nobody got time for that.

    Smooches and take care of you!

  17. Sending you prayers. I’ve always found the worst pain to be ear issues or teeth issues. 🌈

  18. I am sending my best thoughts. Thank you for posting anything and everything. I have been preaching the gospel of Crusie and brought a few into the fold. Sometimes think find it helps to just embrace the suck. Sugar coating it just makes it bigger. I hope tomorrow is better.

  19. In the words of the immortal Roseanne Roseannadanna – it’s always something.

    Sending you positive thoughts and hopes for sleep and healing.

  20. A couple of days ago I was feeling low. There’s this global pandemic on. Also race riots (God, I hope they secure change). Also I’m in the UK and my son is one they’ve sent back to school.
    Anyway I was feeling low.
    So I went to my bookcase. I’m a novelist myself and I have hundreds and hundreds of books all over my house, not to mention a kindle full to bursting.
    But I knew what I needed. First I reread Agnes and the Hitman, then Don’t Look Down, I’m now on Welcome to Temptation. Bet me and Faking it next.
    I’m feeling better. I needed this.
    Your books aren’t irrelevant- nothing that makes people feel better in this crazy time is irrelevant.

  21. Just wanted to send love. Nothing but good times ahead.

    (it’s all too easy to go a little mad I think just now, even without root canals, stressful life admin, and All The Things. If you haven’t read Swordheart by T Kingfisher, or Minor Mage, this might be the week for it, you know, once you’ve finished with Murderbot).

    Also, this ultra low production values, elf-yourself style clip made my day.
    (I saw a twitter post that said of NZ “if you thought we were smug before, just you fucking wait”. Basically true, but really, more celebratory than smug? And in full knowledge of the precariousness of our self-perceived pedestal, I hope).

    1. I have known both types. My best friend is a splendid example of all that is good in NZ, my brother collected one of the other type. The Hobbit came up over dinner and she said “You’re welcome”. Puzzled, we pointed out that Tolkien was not from NZ, she said no one ever reads the books. Awful woman

  22. Get well soon, Jenny. It sounds awful and I hope it stops being like that very soon.

    Nitnowa’s fantasy, and I get what you’re saying about white people writing about police and race, but fantasy’s kind of an easy way into truth. So I reckon it’s needed now. Would it work to get (pay) a POC reviewer to go through it first, to see about unconscious bias?

  23. I’m glad you’ve got your garden, with trees and water as backdrop. Hope all that peace keeps percolating through you.

    I’m finding all your writing insight really helpful as I’m finally starting to play with writing fiction – thank you.

  24. Rest up and take care of yourself! May the weather remain beautiful. We all care about you and want you to be well.

  25. “…I’m going back to the writing book I’ve been planning for decades. I’m good at teaching writing.”


  26. As someone you taught to write, I think the idea of a writing book by you is the best news I’ve heard all week.

    Also, women who have had it up to here are never irrelevant.

  27. I once started pencilling a list of all the things I learned from your novels:
    1. Protag has sex with a different guy first (Fast Women);
    2. Two women kiss for fun/as an experiment (Fast Women);
    3. Mediocre sex until protag embraces her bent nature (Faking It);
    4. Protag has pubic hair! (Older one, don’t remember which one, but he was happy she was blonde all over).

    It’s fine to take a break/pivot while people are working very hard to change an unjust society. But I, too, enjoy your writing and thank you for trying to talk about discrimination when it’s hard at the best of times, let alone post-surgery and legal wrangles.

    I will selfishly enjoy your teaching posts *and* look forward to your writing.
    You got this.
    Argh loves you.

  28. It all sounds overwhelming enough without also being in terrible pain. I hope the surgery heals soon and that everything else starts to calm down.

    We’ve got a lot of air force super fast jets flying overhead right now. Probably to honor the front line health care workers, but these days who knows? Could be a surprise from the executive branch.

  29. I wandered over here to see if you were still around – so glad to know you are. I have had drawbacks for years awaiting a new book. Any new book – anything! Write something on a napkin and post it – I’ll read it. OK OK – I’m fine now.

  30. Hope you’re feeling better – what a lot to deal with.
    Thank heaven for dogs.

  31. Mouth pain is always awful and I’m sorry you’re having a rough patch to go along with it.

    Nothing but good times ahead

  32. Jenny’s comment about salt and the sale of a family home sent my mind wandering. I’ve just been re-reading the final two (non-Lakeside) volumes in Anne Bishop’s series on The Others. Like the Lakeside group, both of these have police as major figures, and have similar themes around group prejudice and intolerance. And triggering comes up in both of them, as different characters get sent slightly batty by painful memories of bad stuff that come up suddenly when somebody mentions or does something along similar lines.

    I know I get triggered sometimes by some scene or treatment that reminds me of my own less-than-fully processed issues, and it sort of feels like we are all getting impacted that way by George Floyd’s brutal mistreatment and murder at the hands of police.

    It’s fascinating that the Republican party is kind of fracturing a little bit over all this. Generals are speaking up and saying “send in the troops” is a very bad idea. I heard Megan McCain say on TV that the Democratic party needs to be more adept at promoting their slogans lest the Republicans win an election. The head of American football makes a statement in favor of protests like kneeling! Mitt Romney marches with black people in a protest parade! Belgians are attacking statues of King Leopold! It’s like people are reeling away from previously held partisan dogma, like it’s Opposite Day or something.

    And the good things that are coming out of the situation — what looks like the awakening of so many people and groups around issues of race and intolerance — are coming out of a stronger response to trauma than we’ve collectively been able to generate before.

    But a lot of the things being discussed as solutions — like defunding police departments, for example — minimize so many other problems that are getting less focused on in response to one man’s murder — guns, military fanaticism, political and social polarization, pressure groups and yes-men, etc. etc. etc.

    I think it’s a good time, rather than a bad time, to think about Nita and all the ways it could be a right book at the right time, as long as it changes a bit of its direction and dives headlong into so many of the subjects we could be talking about.

    But right now, I just want Jenny to have a chance to sleep and cuddle dogs until she feels a whole lot better.

  33. I feel you on the tooth pain. I had 2 impacted, infected wisdom teeth pulled, 4 implant screws placed, and 2 sets of bone grafting done in 1 surgery. It took over 2 hours because they had to take the wisdom teeth out so carefully so as to contain the infection. It were not fun. Before I was allowed to leave, I had to take 2 pain pills, I think Tylenol no. 3. It was a horror show.

  34. My choice would be to avoid oral surgery altogether, but we don’t often get to choose.
    May the pain and sleeplessness vanish quickly and leave you able to appreciate your appointment with Jamie on Thursday.

  35. So happy you have dogs and good weather. Wishing you no pain and comfortable chairs.

    Fiction or non-fiction you will always be relevant.

  36. I remember you saying that people read romantic fiction for the same reason that we read crime fiction, the promise of a just universe. For romance it’s emotional justice, for crime it’s moral justice, but we ultimately seek them out for the same reasons. People are looking for justice in the world right now, and a story like Nita offers both moral and emotional justice.

    I understand why you would question the relevance of a white cop protagonist written by a white author right now, but you started writing the book because you were aware of the injustices being committed by white authority figures against people of colour, and the need for white people to confront that prejudice head on. That’s already the story you wrote.

    All that aside, I hope you’re allowed to sleep lying down soon. Feel better x

  37. Your novels themselves are a masterclass in writing. The dialogue alone is just so real, rings so true, that it points to every character having their own personality and quirks and sources of angst, even if they are a secondary character. Your fiction reads as if you hold out for ‘le mot juste’ in each sentence. Nothing ever jars, and each heroine feels like a friend. Don’t undervalue your fiction. Your flair for humour is also very valuable, because it is rare that authors can pull it off with such seamless flow. Ok, enough fawning. You write good.

  38. Books on writing are fun and illuminating for readers, not just writers. I dip into Stephen King’s (and don’t even read his fiction), James Frey, Janet Evanovitch (sp?) has a hilarious book on writing with lots of excerpts from her books, Elizabeth George, and many others, some decades centuries old

    So, yes! Write about writing. And include excerpts from your books 🙂

    I’ve always said I’d rather have a colonoscopy than a root canal. The drugs are better and you can eat, laugh, and sleep like a baby afterwards. So sorry about your ordeal!

  39. Sleeping upright is hard. I did it twice for six weeks for shoulder surgery and I am so sorry. May I recommend ice packs for the pain? I used to put a cooler by my bed full of frozen icepacks and work
    Through them.

    These are extraordinary times —awful surgery, pandemic, quarantine, and a President trying to turn us into a military dictatorship. Give yourself all the space and time you need to feel better. As you may have noticed while we prefer to play with you we do keep eachother entertained while waiting.

  40. Oh just hell, indeed. Sending you a Faking It style “Poor Baby” with social distant hugs.

  41. Please, please please, your writing is not irrelevant. Don’t stop, I beg you. I also offer bribes. Good books are the only thing holding my faith in humanity together. I have to hear daily about how facemasks are stupid at work and my town is tearing it’s self apart over not wearing them. It upsets me a lot. Every time.

    So please, don’t stop telling stories. We need them to make us better. Which is something I would be well served to note myself. Making art and jewelry seems irrelevant right now.

  42. Please never think your writing is irrelevant. Others have talked about how it’s comfort food – and it sure can be – but it’s also decidedly pro-woman in a world still junked up with misogyny, and frankly, I can’t imagine a single Crusie heroine who wouldn’t be heading out to protest. So there’s that.

    Your books have gotten me through some awfully tough times and I’m counting on them to get me through a few more. ❤️

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