Sunday, June 01, 2014

Requiescat in pace, Jay Lake

Sunday, June 1, Jay Lake died.  It wasn't unexpected, as he had entered hospice care earlier after a long bout with cancer.  Like many, I hoped there would be a remission.  Or a magical DNA cure from NIH.  Or at least mutant powers.

Jay was born six months before I was.  He joined the Wordos about a year before I did.  For a while we were part of the triumvir running Wordos.  I have a curious mix of sadness that he's gone, anxiety about my own mortality, and a grab-bag wash of reactions while examining the parallels and diversions in our two lives.

I remember once in 2004 Jay came to the Wordos dressed as Zeppelin Man.  Think Superman meets Steampunk as an extra at a Cher show:  he wore purple tights and green undies and a purple cape.  He had some kind of aviator's cap with goggles.  He encouraged the Wordos to submit manuscripts to an anthology he was co-editing, "All Star Zeppelin Adventure Stories".

Three months later, as the Wordos went around the table reporting manuscript rejections, and the inevitable ones from Zeppelin Stories came around, Jay would follow-up each announcement with "The bastards." Jay was like that.

Another time at Wordos, I'd submitted a manuscript for critique which had an idea in it that Jay wanted to use.   He asked me if it would be OK, I said yes, and the next day he sent me a 4000 word manuscript.   I was impressed with his professional courtesy, the speed with which he'd written something, and the writing.

Much later in 2011, after Jay had stopped coming to the Wordos table, I'd planned a train trip to Portland and told folks that I'd be at Old Towne Pizza.  It turned into a pleasant Jay-Fest as he was the only person to show up.  We talked about his cancer and his relationship with death.

The last time I saw Jay was at OryCon.  He was wearing a knitted cap and rode an electric scooter.  It was brief and I was struck with the sense that I must not wear him out.

We traded a few brief e-mails in the interim between then and now.

Today has been difficult.  I needed to stay away from Facebook because I was compulsively scanning it for memorials about Jay.  The virtual funeral on Facebook was draining, and I felt lucky to run into some Wordos later in the day so we could physically hug.

When I think about Jay's death, I think about a sculpture in the MET, "Death Staying the Hand of the Artist."  Except, if it were about Jay, the artist would be wearing a Hawaiian shirt, he'd be carving a goat (with baroque excess) instead of a sphinx, and death would be a clown wielding a very phallic-looking bicycle horn.

Requiescat in pace.
May you continue to inspire.
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