Note to April: Good Riddance

Don’t tell April I said this, but it was without much doubt one of the most aggravating months I’ve had in a very long time. Parts of it were good, particularly with By The Way, which has become a lot more flexible and fun now that AOL Journal entries have an expanded character limit; this lets me do a lot of more interesting stuff. And I have a few other projects that are simmering along, some of which should pop soon. I will of course keep you informed.

But other parts were less than fabulous, in no small part due to both physical and technological screw-ups. The allergy season this year has really knocked me for a loop and has caused be to become unmoored from time, space and emotional constancy, which is alas a self-defeating cycle: Being tired and cranky and off my schedule makes me work less and less effectively, which in turn makes me crankier. Repeat for about 30 days. I’m emerging out of the allergy tunnel in no small part due to finally accepting the obvious (dude, you got allergies), and cracking open a box of the over-the-counter version of Claritin and taking one of the pills a day.

The technology aspect of it is tricker. Aside from April showers bringing horribly inconvenient satellite Internet outages, I’ve come to the conclusion that e-mail is finally and completely screwed. Thanks to spam, and the resulting needed-but-capricious spam filters that have risen in their wake, I am no longer in the slightest bit confident that the mail I’m sending is getting received. or if it’s loitering in a spam box somewhere among the viruses and the ads for erection boosters and anti-depressants. Likewise I’m almost certain that people attempting to reach me are sending e-mail I’m not getting.

I guess in one sense it’s nice: “Your e-mail was in my spam filter” is now to e-mail what “I’m going into a tunnel” is to cel phones — a convenient excuse to not talk to someone. But damn it, I want to talk to people. Earlier this month it took about four tries to get a single document to one of my book editors, and even through I know he finally got that e-mail, I’m not at all sure he got the e-mail immediately after it, in which I sent him three book ideas. I want to be sure he got it but at the same time I don’t want to look unduly pathetic and neurotic. If I’m to look pathetic and neurotic, I want it to be for something I’m actually pathetic and neurotic about, not over whether a friggin’ e-mail has arrived. Curse spam for making me look more emotionally needy than I really am.

(I’m solving my problem here, incidentally, because I know this particular editor and/or his spouse read the Whatever. Yes, it’s pathetic and neurotic to do it this way, too. But what are you going to do.)

Long story short: Some geek better build me better e-mail and fast, because I literally can’t work if e-mail gets any more screwed up than it is. It’s bad enough some jerk-off wants to make money splotzing ads for bestiality photos into my e-mail box; when the consequence of doing so is that my business gets harmed because I can’t reach people through e-mail and they can’t reach me, well, that’s when I entertain notions of setting up a collection for hitmen to visit the spammers in their dank Florida doublewides. Honestly. I’m surprised it hasn’t happened already.

These two factors (among others with which I won’t bore you) made April horribly frustrating; every time I felt like I had a bit of momentum going, it’s like my legs got poleaxed from under me. The good news is that I did get most of everything I needed to get done, done; the bad news is I can’t say that this was accomplished by any agency other than sheer chaotic thrashing. Earlier this month, someone sent me an e-mail asking me how I managed to find the time to do everything I do. This last month I was very much wondering that myself.

May. May shall be different, in no small part because I don’t have much choice in the matter at this point. I burned off all my margin time in April by sneezing and try to keep a satellite connection open; as a consequence May does not offer me time to dick about. I will be organized out of necessity, which is frequently the only organization I manage. But, whatever works.

This means, of course, that I now have just over four hours to screw around. I better get to it.

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