This is the updated version of my cover for the novel I am writing. Can you tell? The change is a small one. I have now passed 25,000 words and I’m still chugging along full steam. It is like the story is writing itself. That is usually a good sign. But I reserve the right to be monumentally wrong and fatally stupid. Writing this novel could be a mistake. I never wrote a story with this many naked people in it. And it is not erotica nor pornography. It is about nudists, not sex fiends Like the novel The Baby Werewolf, it talks frankly about nudity and mentions sexuality, but there are no sex scenes in the story. Will readers get the difference? I don’t really know… because I’m stupid sometimes.
But I am thinking way overmuch about the Coronavirus too. Like everybody else sequestered in their homes, manacled by worry, and absorbed in Netflix and Disney Plus.
I am definitely watching too much of the news broadcasts from basements and family rooms as even newscasters, Stephen Colbert, and Jimmy Kimmel are staying at home and social distancing.
It has led me to believe that critical things will happen because of what stupid people will do next. Mardi Gras and Spring Break partiers who refused to listen to recommendations from responsible officials are all bringing viral infections back home to infect their loved ones, and their grand parents whom they must no longer love. The Governor of Florida is refusing to lock down his state, and the Lieutenant Governor of Texas is recommending we open up the economy and let old people like me sacrifice their lives so the stock market goes back up.
The solution will be simple too. Stupid and racist people voted Trump into office. He will get them all into churches for Easter. They will all infect each other, and most of them will die. Trump will not get re-elected because stupidity killed his voting base.
But what do I know? I am sometimes very stupid too.
Well, I have now paid property taxes for 2019, exhausting all the money I have earned by substitute teaching this school year. I am not broke exactly, but all the money I still have is now already spent. There are more days in almost every month than I have funds to actually pay for them. I am not broke, but I am breaking.
And Washington is debating giving us money to help us make it through trying times. But I don’t anticipate “us” actually includes “me”. “Us” is mostly a matter of rich folks when they use that word in Washington.
But I have been busy. I continue to write away on A Field Guide to Fauns which is basically a book about naked people… specifically about sad naked people and the happy naked people who try to cheer them up. It is about nudists in a nudist park in Texas, I have also been walking the dog, which means bagging poop and yanking on the leash whenever she wants to run out in front of cars and Bubba-trucks and get squished under Bubba’s tires. And I have been talking by phone with relatives in Iowa and Missouri.
The Princess and I, while delivering the tax payment to the drop-box, noticed that Braums’ Ice Cream store had their dining room open for a number of patrons. Most of the food businesses are doing drive-up orders only. But, apparently, somebody has to feed the stupid people of Texas. After all, how else are they gonna spread viruses and kill off all those danged kale-eating liberals and old people?
You have to get rid of us somehow, right? And that “us” definitely includes me, even though I hate kale.
But there is no “normal life” anymore. Was there ever any? I am legitimately asking. I was a teacher my whole life, so I had to get used to “abnormal” and “chaotic” long ago.
Well, here I am now. Shut down and quarantined, not because I have Covid 19, which I don’t, even though I can’t prove that. Rather, it is because I am a high risk individual. Coronavirus could kill me easily. And also because the world is shut down around us. No school. Officially for this week, but probably for the rest of the school year.
So, what will I do now? Well, write more on my novel, of course. But this is not the 19th Century. There are ways to reach out to friends and family instantly, by phone, or Skype, or Facebook, or instant messenger… And you need to check on them. Keep them from feeling isolated and alone. Especially if, like me, you or any of them are at risk from this pandemic. We are not living in the days of the Black Death or the Spanish Flu. We are able to actively connect with others to keep the depression monsters at bay. And no one gets physically sick from a phone call. (I honestly hope that is the truth.) I talked with my octogenarian parents last night, and texted my 60-something sister just to talk and reconnect. My daughter talked to her grandmother in Iowa. My number two son has online friends in Europe and South America. We have family in the Philippines. And I can write this blog post for you. How is your family doing? Do you know somebody that is at risk? Reach out to them. It may be the phone call that saves their life, and then the invention of the telephone will be validated and justified.
And hopefully, with the use of modern communication devices, you won’t infect them with anything, and they won’t infect you. Not even Mr. Grupp.
Two weeks ago I let my car drift too near the curb of the street. I hit a curb-corner at the edge of a driveway and something there punctured the passenger-side tire. It was a financial setback. I had to buy a new tire.
But what it really cost me, was the confidence of all three of my children that I can still take care of myself. They were united in threatening to take away my driver’s license and treat me like an invalid.
It was a bit of an over-reaction to what actually happened. But God has it in for me. The challenges to my continued survival seem to never stop coming. At this writing I have six incurable diseases. Diabetes, hypertension, COPD, arthritis, psoriasis, and an enlarged prostate. On top of that, I am a cancer survivor. Skin cancer, 1983. My father has Parkinson’s and it is severely slowing him down. It is also a disease I am beginning to show symptoms of. God hasn’t killed me yet, but not for a lack of trying.
Personally, I am worried about my own frequent bouts of stupidity more than anything else.
Sure, I have diabetes and not enough income to get insulin thanks to pharmaceutical profiteers (another term for blood-thirsty pirates) But I have learned since 2000 to battle it with proper diet. It has been working. And it still does.
But I can be stupid, too. I hate being left out of restaurant trips to SpringCreek Barbecue or Chili’s. But the temptations to eat myself into a coma is always there right in front of me. My wife always eats food that will kill me and even offers me some. (She is not trying to kill me for my money, though. She knows I am bankrupt. That’s why she has to pay for these little family outings that she invites me to. And there are no huge insurance checks in her future if the mashed potatoes get the better of me.)
Arthritis is hard to live with too. My kids worry that my gas-pedal knee will seize up when I am going 55, or my break-pedal leg will fail to move when I need it to when the inevitable Dallas-area killer grandma is driving beside me in the next lane in her black BMW, thinking seriously about how to kill me and make it look like my fault on the insurance claim. I learned long ago to drive with extreme defensiveness in Texas. But still I can be stupid too. Like when I don’t watch the lane’s squiggles and curves hawkishly like I didn’t do two Sunday nights ago.
So, I have to be less stupid for more of the time. If not… if I die on the road some god-forsaken night, my sons are going to kill me. Even if they have to dig me up again to do it.
I am ill again. No apparent reason. Just headaches, body aches, and a pain in the chest. Day-after-day sort of pain for a sufferer of diabetes and arthritis. But pain is a reminder that you are still alive. It grabs you by the collarbones and shakes you with the realization that whatever you are going to accomplish will be done over, under, or around the difficult obstacles thrown in your way. So, I better pick myself up and get going.
As a novelist in poor health, every time I start a new story, already worked out in my head or not, it becomes a race to finish. My time is limited because I simply cannot last for very much longer. My body is failing, and each step on the path of life hurts and is hard to take. Like Icarus above, I am flying dangerously high and possibly too near the Sun. The novel The Boy… Forever, in which Icarus Jones is the key character, is swiftly coming to a close. The villain has already died the first time, and the hero is approaching the orb of the Sun. I am hoping to have it published within a month of right now, and hopefully long enough before my own rendezvous with the Son comes to pass.
This will be book number fourteen that I have published. It is already four novels more than I had realistically believed I could publish before six incurable diseases and the prospect of cancer, heart attack, and stroke that I have lived with since 2000 all does me in.
Ironically, this book that I am racing to finish before I die is about characters who are immortal, or make themselves immortal by consuming the essence of other immortals. And, of course, it is also another Pirate novel, feature the Norwall, Iowa 4H softball team and liars’ club that has a part in most of my other novels whether they are set in the 70’s, 80’s, or 90’s.
The novel is currently 49,685 words in 160 formatted pages. It will be finished by about 52,000 words. I hope to have it complete by the middle of next week.
Further I figure to start another novel project immediately afterwards. Who knows how many more I can achieve before the end shall come.
December so far has not been kind. When my family came home from their Thanksgiving trip to Florida, the two boys had the flu. And, of course, they gave it to me. I have been seriously ill for the better part of three weeks. Having diabetes and being unable to afford insulin, I guess I am lucky to even be alive at this point. But I was unable to do any substituting in December. So, no extra money comes in during January. I will be paying for it for a while.
But one bright spot in the whole sickness story was that my daughter had reached semester test week without getting the bug and without missing school. Ah, but the Christmas flu fairies had a different outcome in mind. Monday, by the end of the day, she was bright green in the face and suffering. She was beside herself with worry about testing. She forced herself to go to school the next morning and take her first period exam. She got her exam done, and made a perfect score of 100 on it. But then she had to come home and go directly to the doctor. Yep, the flu. And probably gotten from classmates who also are missing tests about now. Wednesday and Thursday was misery and vomiting and fevers. She will live through it, but not with smiles on her bright green face. The school is understanding about her missing the tests, and it will be made up.
So, I have to take care of her with caution. If it is a different flu than I recently had, the Florida flu, I could get sick again. And this time it could easily be a fatal flu. I am not afraid. I have battled flu so many times that it no longer scares me. I know what to do. And I will get through it.