I Haven’t

How have you adapted to the changes brought on by the Covid-19 pandemic?

I never needed to do anything for the pandemic. I’m an introvert homebody by nature. I also didn’t like wearing masks, so staying home was more comfortable, anyway. Everyone in my family has had it but me, and I still don’t have the last booster because it was too much energy to schedule when my risk factor was so damn low. I have the first three, though, and they did come in handy when my friend Robert Glasper (sat behind me in history in high school) came to DC and played “The Reach” (an addition to the Kennedy Center that focuses on hip-hop). It’s so fabulous. If I were to plan the perfect date, I’d want to go see Robert. Romantic, platonic, whatever. It’s a great place to sit outside and have a drink before or after the show, because the garden patio is just as much fun as looking at the art indoors. My last trip was incredible because it was one of my favorite artists on my actual birthday.

I also really, really like seeing Robert alone so that no one talks to me and I can just take pictures of him and the band. Last time he was on tour with Yasiin Bey. It was funny, I told Robert to tell him he was my favorite alien (he played Ford Prefect in Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy), then walked away and thought, “I’m a friggin’ Doctor Who fan. I’m an idiot.” The only person that he plays with that I’m desperate to see is Jason Moran, because I was actually closer to Jason than Robert. I get to see Jason more because he actually works here (still lives in NYC, but is also jazz director at the KenCen). I’ve just never seen both my guys outside of the High School for Performing and Visual Arts bubble.

I would even get the last booster for that one.

Seeing Robert was definitely the highlight interruption in my otherwise quiet existence, because I’d rather play with my characters or talk to all y’all than do much else. If you knew the main characters I was working with, you’d spend time with them, too, and there are only five people on earth who know the answer to that question. If any one of them talks, it will do an enormous amount of damage. This is it. This is my magnum opus, and I can’t think of anyone who would figure it out faster than my chef of an ex-wife. I’ve left breadcrumbs all through this friggin’ web site in hopes that she gets the hint. She just looms so large in my memory that if I succeed here, I’ll be able to trace it all the way back to “hi, I’m Dana.”

God, don’t you wish you knew which breadcrumbs were only for her? I bet you do. Maybe in 20 years, because I swear to Christ if the idea is executed properly, it’s worth millions. I can take that check to the bank and cash it, because three of the five are subject matter experts. Dana could guess all three with only three guesses given if she picks up what I’m putting down.

I’ve already put it in writing to The Five that if I get rich, so do they. So does Dana. So does pretty much everyone I ever knew because there’s no such thing as a self-made millionaire, even if it was just sacrificing giving gifts to your friends even when you really, really want to because they’ve been so kind to you.

For instance, one of the huge gifts that Zac has given me is his time. We’ve been dating casually for months (I only see him every few weeks and that’s fine with me because again, characters.), and his gift is not only his time, but his house as well. If I need a different office once in a while because I’m going stir crazy, he’ll leave for his office and “leave me in mine.” I’m not sure he sees it as a gift, but it’s more precious than gold. I think the one true thing I’ve said about this novel over and over is “it’s got spies in it.”

Zac is an SME because he works in a smaller agency than CIA, but collects raw data from all the intelligence bureaus we have. He’s not a spy, but spy adjacent (I think……….. you never friggin’ know in this town). That way, he can at least teach me unclassified jargon, because if he doesn’t know it, he can at least point me in the right direction. Neither one of my characters *start* as intelligence officers or assets/agents. I’m borrowing structure from Steve Martin’s Picasso at the Lapin Agile, an alternate history in which Picasso and Einstein meet at the Lapin Agile, a cafe in Paris. The book is their conversation.

It opens up all kinds of possibilities for me as a writer, because my story actually does start in Paris. As I’ve been telling Daniel, I’ll go with you everywhere, it’s just that the only places I have to live for a while are Paris and Ho Chi Minh City. The majority of the story takes place in Viet Nam, so I want to go there first on a 90 day visa. I’ve found a range of apartments, and there are huge ones in the middle of the city for $4-600/mo. I could get by on a studio for $200, but it’s better for me to have a separate office. If I’m going to have a work in progress that’s worth this much, I want a friggin’ door that locks when people come over. If you think I’m being paranoid, ideas are my currency. I’m the product. If this isn’t the right idea for me, it’s the right idea for someone, and Joe Hack is not going to decide to take a stab at it.

I’d sell it to “The Daniels” rather than keep it on my home computer if it was unsecured (speaking of which, they’re one of the few directors I’d even attempt to trust). Yes, I know that Daniel and Daniel are separate people, but if I can live with being “the girls” for almost a decade, they can roll with it or don’t).

Now do you see why the pandemic didn’t affect me at all? I’ve just rambled on for like 15 minutes and not even looked up.

And for my Ted Lasso fans, I didn’t even know I wanted Trent Crimm, Independent to be a Diamond Dog until he wasn’t. And yes, I’m just as much of a train wreck as Ted, and I’m proud of him because he’s doing the work.

We kept each other company during the pandemic, Ted doing work at his house and me doing work in mine.


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