Beware the Ides of March…

JT Ellison

Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof. (Matthew 6:34)

It’s in the air. Can’t you feel it? The pervasive grumpiness, the short tempers, the unkind thoughts, words and deeds. It’s everywhere, this unsettled, speculative funk. It creeps under doors in the middle of the night, infusing its victims with an overwhelming urge to scream, to lash out at their friends and foes alike. And it breeds. Yes, it’s that time of year again. One imagines Ceaser might have heeded the warning had he been a scribe rather than a king.

Winter lasts a few weeks too long when you’re a writer.

I know what happens to me when I’m not getting my proper allotment of daylight. I get cranky. And snappish. And when I’m under stress, which I have been quite a bit lately (go figure) I turn into the wild woman of Borneo, replete in my frustration, tearing my hair out at the slightest provocation. This is not me. It isn’t my personality. And from what I know of the rest of the crime fiction microcosm I call home, it isn’t a normal state for any of you, either.

Now someone on high decided it would be a good idea to move the clocks around early, which means I’m doubly frustrated because my body tells me it’s a different time than the clock, and I’m all kinds of screwed up on my schedule. Grr.

There is a cure. Well, there are a couple of cures. One would be to stop going to list serves and blogs, quit reading email, stop the paper for a few weeks, turn off the televisions, cocoon in our little holes, not having contact with anyone or anything until the days are longer, the vitamin D deficiencies are restored, and people can be nice again.

Or, you can join a basketball pool. That’s right. It’s that time of year again. MARCH MADNESS is here!!!!!!


The brackets save me. Every year, just when I’m starting to think winter will never end and my husband is about to wring my neck, I get the email from my bracket manager telling me it’s time. Woo-hoo!!! I’m generally not a betting person, but I’ve won big in the pool before, and am completely hooked. I do two brackets each year, one of reasonable chance, and one wildcard, with the 13 seeds moving into the Sweet 16, major upsets, and other unlikelihoods. Last year, my wildcard bracket got me further than my mainstream, and I had a chance at taking the whole thing until Florida made it to the Final Four. Whoops, I just thought of a very ungracious word to call them.

My spirits are rising as I write this, because I know once I’m finished here, and I do my 1,000 words for the day, I get to sit down with laptop, ESPN, the newspaper and my gut, and start making choices so I can turn my brackets in.

This is the exercise that works to drag me out of the winter doldrums. What do you do to call a moratorium on grumpiness??? Is it too early to start hoping for a little sweetness and light?

Wine of the Week: Francis Coppola Diamond Series Merlot

I’d tasted this at a festival and wasn’t thrilled. Had it alone the other night at the hockey game and loved it. Apparently my tastebuds are in betrayal mode.


Late breaking update:

The brackets are submitted and I’ve taken few chances this year. Florida takes it all on sheet 1, Georgetown on sheet 2. If either of them lose early, don’t blame me.

33 thoughts on “Beware the Ides of March…

  1. Naomi

    Darn! We should have done a Murderati pool. You would have won some money from me because each year I make my picks from my heart rather than my head. I have Kansas going all the way. I have Long Beach State beating Tennessee today (sorry, JT). In my bracket, I have a lot of Pac-10 schools–Oregon, Washington State, USC and UCLA going pretty far.

    Seriously, Florida is the team to beat, but I’m no Noah fan.

  2. Tasha Alexander

    I am completely out of my element here. I mean, I knew SOMETHING was going on since Survivor wasn’t on at the right time. Basketball, eh? ; )

    And JT, you’re charming even when you think you’re cranky and snappish!

  3. JT Ellison

    Naomi, I had a banner first day — 15 on the Georgetown sheet and 14 on the Florida sheet. And TN better kick LBS all over the gym today, no offense : )

    Tasha, you’re too kind. I must direct everyone to your site today for your interview with one of my favorite authors, the lovely Kristy Kiernan. I was laughing so hard I had to step away from the computer. (And obviously, good girls think alike!)

  4. Naomi

    Chicks talking basketball. If that’s not sexy, I don’t know what is.

    BTW, I have 12. But with the LBS win, I’ll start to catch up. 🙂

  5. Louise Ure

    I only win sporadically in the pools, because I always pick the University of Arizona to go all the way. Oh, that damn loyalty gene.

    But nice work from VCU to start your upsets this year.

  6. Rae

    I’m not a betting gal, but I am a happy one: my Cougs won their first game 😉

    And as for cures for grumpiness, two words: retail therapy…..

  7. pari


    Yeah, yeah, they did horribly this year. We’re getting a new coach for the men’s team. The women’s team continues to kick butt.

    But on to grumpiness; mine has almost subsided — daffodils, crocuses, and fruit trees are in full bloom here in Alb. It’s gorgeous. The only bad part is that we’ll get a cold snap later this month or in April and all the fruit that has set will fall off, brown and shriveled.

    Gather ye rosebuds while ye may . . .

  8. billie

    I’m not a basketball gal, but my entire family of origin is, so I know more than I care to about who beat who this week.

    I get incredibly restless this time of year. It’s the turmoil of spring – all the insects and nature readying to burst forth. I can *hear* it and *feel* it long before it actually happens.

    One thing helps – little trips to the mountains to write. I haven’t done any this year and I’m not sure I will before May, but if I could head to the Grove Park Inn in Asheville I would be there right now. Or to the inn on the Biltmore Estate where one can (if one is willing to fork over the cash) bring the horse and ride the estate property after writing all day.

    Ending with a gourmet dinner and the perfect wine.

    That would cure me for sure.

  9. JT Ellison

    Oh, Billie, that sounds lovely!

    Pari, a truer sentiment was never spoken.

    Louise, U of A? Then again, it’s magic. Anything can happen in the pools. I just need Arkansas to upset today.

    Rae, I wish I was a shopper. It would help matter tremendously.

  10. JT Ellison

    Oh, Billie, that sounds lovely!

    Pari, a truer sentiment was never spoken.

    Louise, U of A? Then again, it’s magic. Anything can happen in the pools. I just need Arkansas to upset today.

    Rae, I wish I was a shopper. It would help matters tremendously.

  11. Naomi

    So sad about Long Beach. Man, that was bloody.

    And now I understand Dave White’s message. I’m just slow.

    Enjoy your weekend, JT!

  12. JT Ellison

    Dave, my own personal feeling ride that way, but for the sake of the pool… at least I had Duke dying a slow death in the next round.

    Naomi, that UT – LBS game was amazing. LBS did a great job. I’ve gotten zero writing done today watching all these games.

    Let me know where you stand after round 2, Naomi!xoxo

  13. Naomi

    Wow, what a great weekend of basketball. I picked Texas to advance, but I’m glad USC won. And Tennessee–good job. Your Vandy beat my Washington State–that really messes up my bracket. I’ve correctly picked 10 going into Sweet Sixteen. Look out for Oregon; they will surprise you. VCU played their hearts out. Impressive. Three PAC-10 teams, yaaah!

  14. JT Ellison

    Naomi, I’m solid on all but Texas, holding firm with 40 correct on the Georgetown sheet.

    I’m not doing as well on the Florida sheet, (37) but my final four is still intact for both. Our pool gives extra points for different seeds, so I’m pretty high on the list right now. Hubby is too. I’ll split it with him happily.

    It has been a wonderful weekend, though. I love to see them fight for it, you know?

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