Looking back, looking forward

I wanted to post photos of the places we visited on the Mississippi Gulf Coast, but I found links that present it in more detail than I ever could. I have no idea what remains, but if you give each page a few seconds to load, then scroll down, you’ll see some of the historic buildings and homes that made me fall in love with the area the first time Tom and I ventured off I-10 to Highway 90 many years ago. Even though my mother is a Mississippi native, she is not coastal, so I don’t know why these places spoke to me so.
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Mississippi Gulf Coast

Today I am horrified by the images and video I’m seeing from the Mississippi Gulf Coast. Besides the fact that one of our LJ friends lives there, and we are hoping he and his loved ones are okay, this is where Tim and I visited when researching THREE FORTUNES.

The residents were so gracious about answering our questions. They were frank about what was good and what was flawed about their state, but none of them talked about moving away. It’s home. In our acknowledgments, we specifically thank two Visitors’ Centers, two GLBT bars, and a cafe in Pass Christian. I don’t know if those places are even still there.

The houses that play an important role in the novel were inspired by the coast’s beautiful mansions, many of which survived Hurricane Camille. In fact, Camille has a part in shaping one of our characters, and some of our characters do what I did when I was there one morning–go to the Hurricane Camille Memorial in Biloxi. Tim and I made a video record of some of the places we saw so that when we came back to Houston, our writing would be accurate. It’s heartbreaking to think of all that beauty destroyed.

I can’t believe the devastation. I know there is a tremendous loss of property, but even worse, the loss of lives. I worry about the evacuees, the survivors, the displaced animals. I feel so helpless. I wish our book would sell a zillion copies or be optioned for a movie, so I could donate enough money to make a difference. I wish I could help people clean up and get their lives back.

All I can do for the moment is send good thoughts, good energy, to these coastal people who shared themselves and their beautiful surroundings with us for a time. It will be home again.

A Class Act

In 1986, I was on my way to teach a class when I was told about the Challenger disaster. I cancelled the class and went to a little diner in Tuscaloosa to drink coffee and watch their television, which was tuned to ABC news. Peter Jennings’ coverage impressed me so much that from then on, whatever happened in the world, his was the voice and appearance I depended on.

After the elections of 2000, I stopped watching the news as often, but when 9/11 happened, it was back to ABC for me. The news was the same no matter what, but somehow it was always a little easier to take when he delivered it.

I will miss him.

A Different Farewell

This is one of my favorite pictures I ever took of Timmy (TJB author Timothy Forry), made at Vincent’s one year when he and JM were here from NYC for a visit. We were a big and lively group: Tom, me, Timmy, JM, James, KK, and Lisa. At the moment I took the photo, Timmy was looking at James as he told a story. (James is a mesmerizing storyteller.)
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On the road in Y2K

I am so glad to be home. Tim did a wonderful job of taking care of the dogs and The Compound, and he is the best vacuumer in the whole world. As long as he remembers to replace the bag. He also had dinner cooking for us upon our return, AND he did the dishes later. How great is he?

I like seeing family and friends in other places, but for some reason, it gets harder every year to really enjoy being away. I miss everything about home: Tim, the dogs, my house, my routines.

I used to love to travel. By car or plane, I was always ready to go anywhere.

The year 2000 was a big year, and not only for traveling.
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Random thoughts on voyeurism

The first time I visited my friend James in an apartment he’d just moved into in Houston and was given the tour, I realized that his bedroom window had a great view of a residential mid-rise. “Oh, man, can I PLEASE come sit in your bedroom and stare at that building at night?” I asked. “Absolutely not!” he answered. “What is wrong with you?”
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