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A Big Thank You, and a Quick Update

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December 22, 2017




It has been a while since I updated news, I know. Frida’s death took a harder toll on me than I’d thought possible.  Silly me: I thought I knew what mourning would look and feel like, after my devastating loss of Toby.  It turns out that each death is different, and that you crumble differently, in different places, and with strangely different kinds of pain.  It turns out that there is no getting used to death, except perhaps in extreme situations, and that not being used to death is probably a good thing in the long run.  But it still hurts and hurts and hurts.

I’d promised an obituary just for her, but that will be a while in the writing.  I think I’ve finally found a way to write about the death and its effect on me, and I’ll post that as soon as it’s done, of course.

Mostly, this has been a contemplative period. I’ve produced pieces, but have been mostly steadily working on my book proposal.  I have a writing partner, who is also making sure I continue to move onwards in my quest to finally get out of my sometimes seemingly irresolvable situations. There’s slow movement forward in all that, very slow, but I’m hopeful. The difference this time is that while the movement is slow, it is now much more steady as G. makes sure I keep doing the things I need to do.  Of course, my dream had been that I would finally get out of all this and surprise everyone by simply posting a photo of Frida perched on her brand new window.  But.  We move on, all of us, my dead kittehs and I. Over this next week, I’m going to finish some major organising work on projects — our website got hacked into, so that was also a glitch — and will post an actual schedule of pieces in the new year.

Writing “A Manifesto” was life-changing for several reasons, which I’ll discuss in a future post.  These days, I prefer to stay silent on a topic if I think my thoughts haven’t been properly processed — this is why I chose not to write on the recent and numerous allegations of sexual abuse and harassment.  So much is going on, at such dizzying speed, with new accusations  tumbling forth every day.  All of it requires more than the occasional hot take.  I’ll have, therefore, more than one piece out in the coming months, on this topic, starting with a post that simply collects some initial thoughts.  From there, I’ll move on to writing about specific cases, like that of Kevin Spacey. Along the way, I’ll also be reviewing books like Unwanted Advances, by Laura Kipnis.


Writing the book proposal has been energising, but I also want and need to return to writing complete pieces in themselves, and you can expect at least one a week starting in 2018.  


Most of all, I wanted to take this year-end opportunity to express a big Thank you! to everyone who has so generously supported me in so many different ways this past year.  You’ve all come through for me when, for instance, my work was shut down.  You’ve written to support me when “leftists” went on the attack and tried to tear down my work.  You’ve written to tell me, simply, that you appreciate my work.  You’ve read and posted and reposted my work — some of you have even been generous enough to translate my work, unbidden and voluntarily.  


I also wanted to thank everyone for all your support during so many difficult times.  When Frida died, I reached out to you for all kinds of help (including, vexingly for me, the financial sort). You did everything you could, including walking with me to the funeral home to deposit her ashes and then collect them again, sitting with me as I desperately held her dead body, leaving me beautiful messages I played over and over, and so much more.  Others sent messages from far away, and so many warm words flooded my inboxes, all of which was so helpful to show me I was not alone.  If I haven’t responded to you yet, it’s because the grief does strange things — sometimes I can bring myself to say something, and sometimes even acknowledging the words is horribly painful.  It will take time, but I will get back to you, I promise.

Many, many thanks also to all those who so kindly sent me things on my wish list when I was struggling to cope. Using those hobby items and putting together those jigsaw puzzles has been more helpful than you will know, so thank you.


I move forward this year in desperate sadness — I have now lost both my cats, and they were my familiars and so much more.  It’s not likely I’ll ever have another.  I’m currently living, temporarily, over the holidays, with the two cats of a dear friend of mine.  They’re hilarious, as cats raised together often are, and adorable, but looking at them, I’m reminded all the more of what powerful bonds I had with my own two.  I’m also struck, curiously, by a feeling of being something of a happy empty-nester.  I feel the way many parents must feel when their children finally make their way out of their homes and towards colleges and (hopefully) their own separate lives — a twinge of sadness, certainly, but also in many ways an eager anticipation of a life unbounded by the necessity of having to take care of other beings.

Don’t get me wrong: If you told me you could, with a wave, give me back the past years with Toby and Frida, with all the financial and other hurdles still in place, I would gladly take them back.  I would do anything for another afternoon napping with Toby cuddled into my stomach as we both lay spooning on the couch.  I would kill for another night of Frida gently resting against my leg on the bed.  I once made a beautiful claret-coloured scarf for a friend, but he isn’t getting it until I’ve farmed every single strand of Toby’s hair out of it.  When Frida died, I bathed her and then ran a comb through the wet fur to untangle it, and I still have that comb with a little fan of her hair stuck in it which I touch to my cheek every now and then, desperately trying to regain that lost sensation.  


But my cats and I are at peace with each other, our molecules still move around in the same spaces.  I’m glad I had them with me, and I always will have them with me.  I’m also glad to now move on without having to worry about their health, or whether or not I’d be able to keep a roof over their heads, of where I might board them if I had to be separated from them for any time, and so on. And I don’t ever again want to have to worry about the care of cats in my charge (except for paid cat-sitting gigs, natch!). I have had my babies, and I’m now ready to move onwards, with them in tow.


I’m also in a good space with my writing, which I feel more quietly confident about as I move forward.  It has not become easy — and the day it becomes that is the day I will ask to die because, really, truly, what would be the point of something you live for and love to do becoming easy?  But I like where it is going, and I’m experimenting with new forms, integrating them into my non-fiction work in what I think will be interesting ways.

Below is a list, a very brief one, of some recent pieces I’ve written or appeared in and places I’ve been mentioned in.  For now, I leave you in sadness but also hope and energy, lots of both, and with, again, my deep gratitude for all your support.  My very best to you and may the new year bring you what you want and need, and may you always move forward, even in the times when you think you have nothing but desperation and sadness around you.


A Manifesto,” in Evergreen Review.


People and Places I Support.”


I appeared on the Nostalgia Trap podcast, with David Parsons.


On Cultural Purity,” for Seven Stories Press.


Helen Razer generously included me in this piece about  gay marriage in Australia.


I was interviewed by Kashmira Gander, of International Business Times, also about gay marriage.


Writing is my primary source of income.  If you've liked this piece and my work in general and would like to support me, please donate or subscribe.  Subscriptions will help support my writing on a steady basis. You can find out more about me here.


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