Journal of a Pandemic Year: Part Twenty-Three

Dear Readers,

I swear. I’m going to end up catching the Rona and dying all because I have to go to doctor appointments due to my chronic health conditions. I’ve had appointments on back to back Fridays and I have another one on Friday the 20th. When I went to my GPs office on Friday the 6th, as is usually the case, I was met at the door by a nurse who took my temperature and asked me a series of screening questions before I was admitted into the lobby. But once I got inside, the lobby was overflowing with people. There was no way to socially distance. Furthermore, quite a few of the patients had their masks pulled down under their chins. The office keeps the door locked, and so one of the employees will unlock it to let people in and out. While I was sitting there (for about 30 minutes), one of the employees left the door unlocked which meant that four or five people came in, some without masks, and none of them got screened at the door.

At yesterday’s visit, I had to go to a different doctor’s office that is in a medical building, unlike my GP which is in its own building. I had to ride the elevator, though thankfully there were only two other people in there with me. This office doesn’t do any screening (though to be fair, they don’t see people that are “sick” in the traditional sense. It’s a pain management doctor). People were wearing masks, which is good, but the lobby was overflowing within twenty minutes of me getting there. Part of this isn’t entirely the fault of the office, as the DEA isn’t relaxing the rules regarding pain management doctors and so they cannot do telehealth visits like other doctors can do.

Any time I leave the house, I wear a mask (I have some N-95s to wear to doctor visits) and also some EMS gloves. And I sanitize my hands once I take the gloves off too. I have two medical conditions that, singly put me in the high-risk category, but when you add them together, creates a perfect storm for a bad outcome if the Rona comes calling. This is why I have to be so careful and why I have been so careful over the past several months. Despite all that caution though, I still have to go to my doctor appointments and so that is the most likely vector of infection for me, particularly when offices are not taking adequate precautions. It is getting bad in Texas. We’ve topped one million total cases, and our daily case counts are higher than even the surge we had this summer which followed the re-opening of the state.

The historian in me, who has long been fascinated with pandemics and their impact on the course of human history, has found this whole situation to be of great academic interest. I’ve been following the Rona since the middle of January, before our own government was talking about it. This situation is not only an interesting study of the impact of pandemics in the modern age, but it gives very good insight into human behavior in disasters. One hundred years from now, assuming the world and mankind is still here, historians, economists, psychologists, sociologists, and political scientists will be studying this just as the biologists and virologists. When I have the time, I’m going back to read and watch some of the very early coverage of the virus. So much has happened since then that I have a hard time remembering those days of early February.

While waiting on more rejections for Molly’s Song, I am working on my third novel. It has been slow going. Lately, I’ve found myself getting more and more distracted by any number of things from cats to shiny objects. I think this is more due to the fact that I haven’t written anything new in a year as I’ve spent the past eleven months editing Molly’s Song. It is going to take me a while to get back into my rhythm again. I’ll get there eventually and I hope to have the first draft of this book finished before the end of the year.

And on that note, I hope to have some publishing news for you soon as it relates to Molly’s Song.

Until next time, friends, take care of yourselves. And each other.

L.H.

Journal of a Pandemic Year: Part Twenty-Two


“And I look and behold a pale horse: and his name that sat on him was Death, and Hell followed with him. And power was given unto them over the fourth part of the earth, to kill with sword, and with hunger, and with death, and with the beasts of the earth.”
Revelations 6:8

Dear Readers,

No, the Biblical quote is not in refence to 2020, the Rona, or the election, but rather to another, more distant time. In a few days, it will be 102 years since the guns fell silent and the Great War drew to its final, bloody close. As I am engaged in writing a novel set during this time, but on the Eastern Front, I paused for a bit today to reflect on what this war meant for the world then as well as now. Here in the States, the First World War often gets very little, if any, attention. There are reasons for that which need not detain us here, but none of those reasons can dismiss the significance of the events themselves.

If you were to ask me who the most important figure in the 20th Century was, I would not say Hitler, or Churchill, or FDR. No, in my humble opinion, the most important figure in the 20th Century was a nineteen year old young man who fired two bullets on a street corner in Sarajevo on June 25, 1914. Gavrilo Princip, with those two shots, altered the course of human history and ushered in a new, more modern, and more terrifying age.

Because of those two shots, young men from Australia and New Zealand traveled halfway around the world to die on the beaches of Gallipoli in the Ottoman Empire. Because of those two shots, empires collapsed. Russia was plunged into the bloody nightmare of revolution and civil war, only to see the rise of a new communist Russia, which along the United States, battled for global supremacy from the end of World War Two until the 1990s. Because of those two shots, over a million men from India would travel to fight on the African Front, in the Middle East, and in France.

Because of those two shots, mankind invented new and creative ways to kill one another with poison gas and tanks and flamethrowers. Because of those two shots, men slaughtered one another wholesale for four years. Because of those two shots, societies, not just armies, turned on one another. Because of those two shots, young men took to the skies in brightly painted aircraft and did their best to incinerate one another.

Because of those two shots, the world had to learn to cope with millions of men who survived the shells, but as Remarque said, “were destroyed by the war.” Because of those two shots, the world would never be the same.

Dear Reader, though many tend to think of World War 2 as being the pivotal event in 20th Century history, one must remember that the second war grew out of lingering issues left over from the first. As much as people sincerely hoped that the great calamity of the early century would be the “war to end all wars,” human nature would not cooperate. So if you live in the States and are used to Nov. 11th being celebrated as “Veterans Day”, remember that it originally marked the end of the First World War and was “Armistice Day.” In the countries of the British Commonwealth, it is celebrated as “Remembrance Day.” If you haven’t already seen it, check out my First World War tribute video here.

Until next time, friends, take care of yourselves. And each other.

L.H.

Journal of a Pandemic Year: Part Twenty-One

Dear Readers,

I hope everyone is well. The upper respiratory infection I had has turned into a raging ear infection. I’ve lost some of my hearing in my right ear. Right now, I am taking heavy anti-biotics to clear up the infection. If it isn’t better (and my hearing back) by Friday, then I have to go in and they will drain the ear. That doesn’t sound too fun. Hopefully the anti-biotics are working, because they are sure doing a number on my stomach.

Today, of course, is Halloween. I’m not a big Halloween person, but I do have one tradition. Every Halloween night, I turn out the lights and listen to the original War of the Worlds radio broadcast, thought it aired on the 30th in 1938 and not the 31st. If you want to join me tonight, you can listen to it here. During the day, SiriusXM Radio Classics, the station at airs the old time radio programs, has nothing but Halloween-ish episodes all day, and so I am listening to those now.

The past week has been taken up with grading and an ever increasing number of student emails. They tend to peak around this time every semester, regardless of whether or not we are online due to the Rona, or in person like normal. I think we have something like six weeks left before Christmas Break, but I’m not one hundred percent sure of that, and my calendar isn’t handy at the moment. I am sure of one thing though, it’ll be here before we know it. And then, the spring semester will be upon us in short order. I’ll be teaching from home again in the spring. Lord knows when we’ll be back to fully face to face again. Hopefully by August. I would like to say that the isolation isn’t getting to me, but I’d be lying.

I have no news for you on the Molly’s Song front. Well, no good news, that is. Lots of rejections so far. It isn’t unexpected, as you would be hard pressed to find a published book that wasn’t rejected multiple times by agents/publishers. I hope to know by the end of the year what direction we will be going, but that might be overly optimistic on my part. By the time the book is on the shelves, it will have been far too long in between my first book and my second, but that fault is entirely mine.

With Molly’s Song still being up in the air as far as publication, I have decided to hold off on writing the sequel for now until I know more about where the series will be going. I’ve plotted out the sequel and could have the first draft done in 45 days, but I don’t want to do that just this yet. Instead, I’ve decided to step back and write the book that I was intending to write in May/June, had it not been for the Rona and the massive home repairs we had to undertake. (You’ll recall those if you’ve been following along for the past several months). That book is my (planned) epic tragedy tentatively entitled Dark Raven. Writing about the Russian Revolution amidst the current pandemic, global uncertainty, social unrest, and a bitterly contested election, at least to me, seems appropriate. That book is likewise entirely plotted out. I’m hoping to have the draft finished by Christmas. The good thing about writing a book set in this time and place is that my Mashka can make a cameo appearance.

Mashka (L) and Nastya (R)

So until next time, Dear Readers, take care of yourselves. And each other.

L.H.  

Journal of a Pandemic Year: Part Twenty

Dear Readers,

I hope this finds you healthy and free of the Rona. The past week has kept me busy dealing with giving and grading midterms, a couple of meetings (done remotely), and responding to work emails, usually about said midterm. It looks like my virtual teaching will extend through the Spring semester as well, so it might be August before I am back on campus again. That’s crazy to think about. I’d have never guessed when I left campus on March 6th, right before spring break, that it would be a year and a half before I was back. It’s a good thing I didn’t leave any food in my office! Actually, now that I say that, I’m not sure if I did or not.

I was going through some old boxes today and came across a battered copy of Journey to the Center of the Earth by Jules Verne. I bought it the summer before I entered 6th Grade. I think I read the whole thing in one sitting and it was one of my favorite books back then. Being able to pull that book out and go on an adventure was just about the only bright spot of my junior high days.

Finding the book got me to thinking, always a dangerous proposition. I decided that I wanted to revisit some classics over the course of the rest of the fall. I’ll read this one, 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, Around the World in 80 Days, and then move over to H.G. Wells and tackle The Invisible Man, The War of the Worlds, and The War in the Air, before I spend some time with Thomas Hardy and Tess of the d’Urbervilles and DeFoe’s Moll Flanders. As you’ll recall, it is DeFoe’s Journal of a Plague Year that inspired this series of blog posts. I’ve read all these books before, but it has been a long, long time since then. It’ll be nice to read them again because they are familiar, and yet not.

Halloween is coming up. I’ve never been a big Halloween person, but I do have a Halloween tradition. Every Oct. 31st, in the evening, I listen to the original War of the Worlds radio broadcast (1938) on CD, using my retro style radio/CD player which is a copy of a 1930s cathedral radio. Since my house was built in 1932, it is quite possible that when the radio drama aired originally at 7pm CST, on Sunday, Oct. 30, 1938, the owner of this house was tuning in to listen.

In November, I’ll turn my attention to taking on the sequel to Molly’s Song. I hope to have the first draft done by the end of the year. We’ll see if that is possible, as my writing plans never seem to go the way that I want them to.

Until next time, friends, take care of yourselves, and each other.

L.H.

Journal of a Pandemic Year: Part Nineteen

Dear Readers,

When we last spoke, I referenced having been through a recent cancer scare. Well, now we can add Rona scare to that. On Friday, Oct. 9th, around 10:30am, I got suddenly sick. I felt like I had been run over by a bus. We are talking a low fever, chills, body aches, and chest tightness. You might be tempted to think flu, but I’ve already had my flu shot. Getting tested proved to be difficult. According to the website of, let’s just say a large retail pharmacy, they had a store in my town that was doing testing. I made an appointment for that afternoon and got an email confirmation and everything. So imagine my surprise when I drove over there and they had a big sign that said, “NO TESTING AT THIS LOCATION.” No big deal. I called my GP. His office said they have nothing to do with testing and that I should call the county health department. I have health insurance and I didn’t want to take a free test away from someone who doesn’t have insurance. Thankfully, I was able to make an appointment at a free-standing ER in the next town over for Saturday morning.

Oddly enough, I felt a little better when I got up on Saturday morning, but my wife drove me over to get the test anyway. It wasn’t too bad. I know some people have said that the test is horribly uncomfortable, but that is probably a matter of perspective. Due to my chronic bowel obstructions, I am used to having a large bore NG tube shoved up my nose, down my throat, and into my stomach. So the COVID test was a breeze for me! My eyes didn’t even water. I didn’t get the results right away. They said I’d have them by text and email within an hour. We had a thirty minute drive home, and we were almost there when I got the text. NEGATIVE. As I know there is a risk of a false negative, I am still quarantining at home for two weeks (not that I’ve been leaving the house anyway for the past seven months). My fever was gone by Saturday afternoon, as were the chills and body aches. I’m mostly left with chest congestion which tends to indicate that this is a run of the mill Upper Respiratory Infection.

On the very day that I was stricken ill, I received the copyedits back for Molly’s Song. Saturday, I worked through all of them and made the suggested corrections. Then it was time for the book to go out on submission. That is where is stands now. I’ll keep you posted on future developments here and on my social media accounts. At this time, I have no updates other than to say that it is out on submission. We’ll see what happens next, if anything. As I’ve said before, authors have to be able to handle rejection. You get a lot of it in your writing career. Thankfully, having gone through the fire academy and the police academy, spending months getting berated by instructions for everything imaginable, I can take what the submission process throws my way.

Until next time, Dear Readers, take care of yourselves. And each other.

L.H.

Journal of a Pandemic Year: Part Eighteen

Dear Readers,

It’s been another week of wasting away again in Coronavirusville. I’ve had a few health issues pop up lately that aren’t the virus, including a cancer scare. It’s a long story and not one that I really want to tell, but let’s just say that the original fear turned out to be unfounded after more tests and consultations. Given my occupational history as a firefighter, and the fact that I smoked like there was no tomorrow for twenty years, it’s really just a matter of time, and so had it turned out to be the big C, I wouldn’t have been all that surprised. The second issue landed me in the Emergency Room last week, which is NOT the place you want to be during the Rona! For those of you who have followed the blog for a long time, you’ll remember that between Nov. of 2017 and May of 2018, I spent a total of six weeks in the hospital, including a three week stay and two major operations. When I got out of the hospital that May, I weighed 130 pounds (remember, I’m 6’4!) and it has taken me two and a half years to finally hit 180 again which is what I weighed before that nightmare started. Truthfully, since the second surgery, I haven’t thought or much worried about a recurrence of the problem. At least not until last week. It wasn’t a full recurrence, but it was enough of one to cause severe pain and send me to the ER. By the time I got there, it was starting to resolve on its own, so they let me go home eventually, but now I am left to feeling like I am playing Russian Roulette with it. The issue (chronic small bowel obstruction) is not only horrifically painful, but also potentially fatal as it can cause serious complications. That’s not something I ever wanted to have to worry about again, yet here we are. 2020 has been a shit year for my wife and I, even if you take the Rona out of it. Still, we keep pushing ahead.

If you recall, late in the spring, we had to have a massive amount of home repairs. As part of that, we did a bit of redecorating/rearranging of the house. My bedroom is also my “office,” as our house is only 900 sq. feet. We moved all of the big bookcases into the living room, which opened up the whole wall near by my writing space. I write standing up because of my spine injury, but I wanted to decorate it nonetheless. I selected two regimental flags (the Royal Irish and the 79th [Cameron Highlanders] Regiments of Foot as I have familial ties to both. My other regimental flag, the Connaught Rangers, is in my office on campus. Then, I selected two 19th Century military prints; one of the Connaught Rangers storming the walls of Badajoz during the Peninsular Wars, and the second of the last stand of the 44th Regiment of Foot at Gandamak during the Anglo-Afghan War. And, of course, I also added some framed photos of my Mashka. Last but not least, I have printed out four of the photos of the unnamed prostitute who inspired Molly’s Song. It’s only right to include her! Plus, there’s more of her story to tell. Remember, that’ll be a three book series. Now, it looks like the proper place for a writer/historian to work, but I’m not a historian, I just pretend to be one in bars.

I’ll get Molly’s Song back from my editor at the end of this week, and then the book will go out on submission. Wondering what that means? It means rejection. A lot of rejection. The best advice I could ever give to aspiring novelists is to develop a thick skin and learn to live with rejection (and self doubt). Even the best books get rejected a few times. Unfortunately, I cannot give you an firm estimate on when the book will be released…it might be a while yet. Rest assured, Dear Readers, that it will happen as soon as possible. The best way to stay up on all the current book news is to subscribe to the blog by email or to follow me on The Twitter. My handle is author_hutch . You’ve been with me for this whole journey, and I’d hate for you to miss out on any happy news relating to the book.

Don’t laugh at me, but I’ve discovered the TV series Glee which ended several years back. It’s a teen comedy/drama about a high school Glee club. I love music, as I think most of you know. 2/3rds of the space on my phone is taken up with music divided into various playlists, including the one for Mashka which I’ve written about here. And you can see the full playlist I listened to while writing Molly’s Song here! Anyway, the music in the series is really good. This might actually be a better series than Dawson’s Creek…but I’ll reserve that judgement until I have finished binge watching it. Once upon a time, I could sing, but I shredded my vocal chords with years of yelling over the sound of sirens, yelling to be heard through an SCBA mask, breathing in God knows what while investigating fire scenes, and twenty years of smoking. However, since I have given up the cigarettes, my voice is starting to come back a little bit. I’m planning a nice surprise for my wife, but you’ll have to wait until the next installment to find out what that was.

Until next time, Dear Readers, take care of yourselves, and each other.

L.H.

Journal of a Pandemic Year: Part Seventeen

Dear Readers,

I think for the first time during this whole Rona thing, I’m getting a little stir crazy. Thankfully, when I get too fidgety, I can go down to Sylvan Beach. It’s less than a mile from my front door and I can sit there in the truck and watch the ships coming down the Bay from the Port of Houston. Rumor has it that the college will remain (mostly) online for the spring semester too, so by the time I’m physically there again, it’ll have been eighteen months since all this started. Honestly, when I left campus for the last time on March 6th, I had no idea that so much time would pass before I’d be back. Sure, I figured I might not be back for that semester, but I didn’t have the slightest inkling that this would last as long as it has.

If you’ve followed these entries over the past six months, you’ll know how insane this whole quarantine period has been for us, what with major home repairs, renovations, etc. 2020 will be memorable for many, many reasons. Every New Year’s Eve, I write a year in review post. I don’t know how I’m going to manage that this year. There’s so much to say, but at the same time, everything has been said already. I’m sure I’ll be able to cobble together something, so fear not.

I’ve had some excitement this past week. Since the semester started, I’ve been getting some headaches, usually late in the day. With being online only now for school, this means a lot more time in front of a computer screen than I am accustomed to. Since my glasses are five years old, I decided it was time for a new prescription and a new pair. So on Monday, I sallied forth to the optometrist. Armed with a new prescription, I picked out a pair of glasses. They arrived today (Saturday), but I’m going to wait to go and pick them up until Monday morning.

To aid me in my quest to slay the Nic O’Tine dragon, my doctor gave me a script for Chantix. I started taking it a couple of weeks ago. It’s not causing me any nausea, which is the main side effect. What it is doing, though, is causing me hardcore insomnia. Like, can’t sleep at all, insomnia. I don’t know how well it is working for what the prescription was for, but we’ll see. I have two weeks left and then I’ll decide if I want to stay on it or not. I’ve also been working on decorating, or rather redecorating, my workspace. After all the renovations, we moved the bookshelves out of my room and into the living room. Now, I am left with a big white wall adjacent to my standing desk. I purchased some art and a few other odds and ends to put up. So far it is looking good, but I have a few more pieces to add. I’ll post pictures once it is finished, but since one of the items is coming from the U.K., it might be a while.

And the best news for last! Molly’s Song is now back with the editor! I’ve finished all my work and now it is time for the copyedit. Then it will go out on submission. I have no idea of a publication date, but as soon as I know one, I’ll let you know. It took six months to write and nine months to revise. There are days when I think it is a fantastic story. And there are days where I question why I ever learned how to write in the first place. To be a writer is to be plagued by self-doubt on a regular basis. It’s an occupational hazard for us.

Until next time, Dear Readers, take care of yourselves, and each other.

L.H.

Journal of a Pandemic Year: Part Sixteen

Dear Readers,

I hope this latest missive finds you well and free of the Rona and far away from any hurricanes. It’s been a hectic week, or maybe ten days, around here. Not for any bad reasons though. On Saturday, September 26th, I’ll hit send and forward Molly’s Song back to my editor for the final polish. I’ve been immersed in her world up to my eyebrows for days now making sure that all my edits are finished. Books are not written. They are re-written. The version of the novel that will go to my editor is actually the 7th Draft. I’m a fast writer but a slow editor. That’s why I finished the book last November and it will be eleven months later that it is ready to go out on submission. With so much time spent with her lately, I’m dreaming about Molly at night. (No! Not like that, you perverts!) My hope, my only hope, is that I do her story justice. For her, and for the millions of women like her from the earliest times right up to the present day who have found themselves victims of traffickers.

Demelza. Oh, be still my beating heart!

I had a surreal experience the other day while working on the manuscript. People had suggested to me that I might like to watch Poldark on Amazon. As I had finished my latest binge watch of something, I decided to go ahead and turn it on. Honestly, I was working and so I wasn’t paying much attention to the show. Then, I looked up and I swear to God it was as if Molly herself were staring back at me. Eleanor Tomlinson, who plays Demelza in the series, looks just like Molly looks in my head (except Molly’s eyes are brown). And I’m officially in love with the screen version of Demelza. If the Molly’s Song series gets produced for television/Netflix/Hulu/Amazon, it would be grand if Ms. Tomlinson could play her.

Speaking of the series, as I think I’ve said before, I project this to be a three book series, possibly more. I can now state that books 2 and 3 have been roughly sketched out. Book 2 has an outline that is a little more fleshed out since it will be next up to write. My plan is to start on it once Molly’s Song goes out on submission in early October. It’ll give me something to do while piling up the rejections. (All authors get rejections…it’s part of the business. My advice to anyone who wants to make a go of it in the publishing world is develop thick skin!)

We had some NFL action this weekend. I got to see my Saints give the Bucs (with Tom Brady) a pants down spanking. Who Dat Nation is back! Anastasia and I listened to the game together on the radio. I’m thinking about getting her a little Saints cheerleaders outfit. I bet one made for a small dog would fit her. She’s not fat. She just has big bones. We are a few weeks into the semester now. I think everyone is started to get the hang of things. It’s tough for students that are not used to taking online classes. It pays for those of us on the instructional side to be as understanding as we can.  

Until next time, friends, take care of yourselves, and each other!

L.H.

Journal of a Pandemic Year: Part Fifteen

Not a bad spot to hold virtual office hours!

Dear Readers,

My fall virtual semester started on Monday, August 31st, so I now have more to occupy my times. I spent time loading everything for the whole semester, so once it starts, it is a matter of holding virtual office hours, responding to emails/questions, and grading. Not a whole lot different than a regular semester, just without the face to face contact hours. Our classes are asynchronous, meaning the students log in on their own schedules to complete the weekly lessons. There is not a set time that they have to be in front of the computer. This is an easier way for students, particularly those working full time or with families (like many community college students) to stay in school despite The Rona.

As I mentioned in my last entry, Hurricane Laura made landfall to our east and so we were spared any damaging winds or storm surge. My wife had come home from where she was living to be here in case the storm hit and to help with storm preparations. We decided that it would be best for her to just go ahead and stay here and not move back out. Is it risky? Yes, it is. But life is short and we’ve spent enough time apart in our marriage. I’m infinitely happier with her being here, that I can tell you. I did fairly well while she was gone. Physically, that is. If you follow this blog or if you follow me on social media, then you know the challenges I face and also how I feel about my wife. Ours is a love story straight out of a Nicholas Sparks novel, though I don’t know if that is necessarily a good thing. Let’s just say that we’ve been through a lot together. Or maybe I should say that I’ve put her through a lot. This is why our song is Far Away by Nickelback. If you haven’t seen it yet, check out the video I made for her for Christmas.

Speaking of songs, I bought a new karaoke machine in early August. It helps with the cigarette cravings. That may sound odd, but it actually works…singing instead of smoking. Glen Campbell I ain’t, but here is a video of me singing Galveston. Twenty years of eating smoke (both as a firefighter and a lover of Nic O’Tine) shredded my voice, but there’s still a few songs I can do. We are thinking about having a karaoke party for the students at the college whenever we resume normal operations (either in January or possibly next August). Having fun at work is an essential ingredient of being happy in your job. I just wish that more people realized that it is okay to have fun at work.

My buddy Paul!

I’ve made a new friend during the pandemic. For several months now, I have a nightly visitor. I call him Paul the Possum. He stops by each night around 8:30pm to eat some cat food. He’s gotten fairly comfortable around me. Him being a wild animal and all, I don’t try to touch him, but he will come and sit under my chair or between my feet. He is friends with the feral cat that I take care of too. With everything going on in the world, it doesn’t feel like I’ve truly started back to school for a new semester. Nor does it feel like the summer is over, though to be fair, this whole quarantine period has passed (at least for me) with lightning speed. I imagine this is due to all the crap we had to deal with house-wise in April and May.

Last but not least, the NFL will be starting in a few days! Who dat say dey gonna beat dem Saints!

Until next time, friends, take care of yourselves, and each other.

L.H.

Journal of a Pandemic Year: Part Fourteen

Dear Readers,

Who had major hurricane on their 2020 bingo card? Living on the Gulf Coast, it is always a possibility, so I don’t know why I just assumed that we wouldn’t see one in 2020. It was kind of dicey because originally, the weather guessers on TV were saying we would get hit by a weak Marco, while Laura went very far to our east. Then, Marco kind of died out and next thing we knew, they told us that Laura was head straight for us and would make landfall as at least a 3 and possibly a 4. That’s just what we needed, right?

Having grown up on the Gulf coast, I’m an old hand at hurricanes. I’ve been through quite a few either as a civilian or as a firefighter on duty during the storm. The problem is that you have to start making plans a few days out, but forty-eight hours before landfall, the safest place to be is right in the middle of the Cone of Doom that the weather guessers put up on TV. More often than not, the storm goes somewhere else. That is kind of what happened with Laura.

My wife’s school announced on Tuesday that they would be closed for the rest of the week due to the approaching storm, as did most schools in the area. I am unable to make the necessary hurricane preparations by myself, so she came home. Our plan was that she would stay here if it would hit as a Cat. 1 or 2 and she would leave with the cats for a 3, 4, or 5. I ain’t for that leaving, so I’d stay home regardless. Our house has been through 14 hurricanes (2 Cat 4s, 2 Cat 3s, 4 Cat 2s, and 7 Cat 1s, plus a dozen tropical storms…and it is less than a mile from Galveston Bay). I’d feel safer in my house than any modern structure in the city. On Tuesday evening she and my brother started boarding up our windows and they finished on Wednesday morning. By the time we finished, it was looking like the storm might hit around 50 miles to our east, but that would still put us in the middle of some wicked winds. Then, the weather guessers started shifting the track further east. Laura ended up coming ashore about a hundred miles to our east instead. Wednesday night, we got a couple of wind gusts in the 25-30 mph range, but no rain.

You ain’t hurricane ready unless you got a pirate flag to put out!

The same cannot be said for the Golden Triangle area of SE Texas and SW Louisiana, particularly Cameron and Calcasieu Parishes. As I grew up in the area, this is a particularly difficult thing for me to see happen. That area has suffered so much over the past fifteen years with Rita, Ike, Harvey, Imelda, and now Laura. And since it happens well away from the bright lights of Houston or New Orleans, the media and the country soon lose interest and the survivors are forced to try and recover on their own without the huge outpouring of support we see when storms hit more populated areas. There won’t be any telethons or national fundraising campaigns on their behalf. This compounds an already tragic situation.

We got the boards taken down on Saturday and brought them back to the storage shed today. Hopefully we won’t need them again this year, but it looks like their might be more trouble headed into the Caribbean as we are nearing the peak of the hurricane season and it is also the Cape Verde season…the big, long tracking hurricanes. There’s never a dull moment down here on the third coast. Today, my wife will leave again to go back to where she is staying for the semester. We are hoping she’ll be able to come home for good in another week or two, but we’ll see.

I miss my office at the college. Haven’t seen it since March 5th.

When not busy dodging hurricanes, I had to spend time getting my classes set up for our fall semester. We start late this year, on August 31st, but that is by design and was decided long before The Rona or Hurricane Laura. I think I’ve got everything ready for the semester, but I’ll no doubt have to tweak a few things as we go along. I’m lucky in that I’ve taught at least a couple of online classes a semester for years now, and so I already have a lot of material ready. Given that all our classes will be virtual this go round, I took the opportunity to revamp my courses to make them, I hope, better for the students. Like many, I look forward to being in a physical classroom again, though, if I am honest, I’m kind of enjoying being at home too. Or at least I was until my wife had to leave.

This is what Query Hell feels like.

Molly’s Song goes off for the copyedit on Sept. 28th, which reminds me that I need to make my last couple of changes. When I get the manuscript back around Oct. 9th, I’ll then enter into a world known to writers as “Query Hell.” This is where you fire off emails and sample chapters in order to place the manuscript with an agent (or publisher). My brother Andrew can tell you stories from the bowels of Query Hell as he’s placed articles with national publications. I now know what direction the sequel is going to take, and I’m actually slowly working on my Russian Revolution epic, Dark Raven, while I plot out Molly’s {Insert Word I Haven’t Decided On Yet Here}.

Until we meet again, Dear Readers, I wish you fair winds and calm seas. And remember, take care of yourselves. And each other.

L.H.

P.S. Hurricane Laura can kiss my Irish a$$.