Jay Lake: Writer

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[child|family] A good Christmas

We had a good family Christmas yesterday. [info]the_child was quite overcome by her ‘big’ present, and everybody had a lot of fun. That’s what counts.

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[family|travel] The high cost of personal disaster

This past Sunday, one of Lisa’s elderly parents had a serious medical emergency. Not life-threatening as it turns out, but absolutely life-changing in the way of difficult eldering. Other relatives stepped forward to respond with immediate help, but Lisa needs to fly to Maryland next week to help with the necessary but difficult lifestyle transitions currently underway.

Lisa is now juggling my life-ending terminal illness and the life-changing illness of one of her parents. I cannot leave her alone with this.

Therefore I am flying with her to Maryland next week. She needs my support. We are both flying back to Portland on November 7th for my bimonthly CT scan on November 8th, followed by my oncology appointment on November 11th, then returning to Maryland on November 12th to further assist her parents. As Orycon falls on that weekend, I will still be in attendance there.

So with great reluctance, we cancelled our trip to Europe. We also severely truncated a post-trip engagement with my agent, and cancelled the visit of another friend who was due after Orycon, both of these to great regret.

The financial aspects of this situation have turned into a severe mess.

My $319.00 Eurostar ticket is non-refundable, and there is no compassionate exemption for medical emergencies. @Eurostar has offered an exchange for a future train fare, but as I am dying of cancer, the likelihood of me making it back to Europe to make use of such a ticket is virtually nil.

So there’s $300. I can afford it, but it’s irksome and unpleasant.

I have also sought a compassionate medical emergency refund from United Airlines which states on their Web site that they provide such consideration. Their response turning my request down flatly did not even acknowledge the nature of my situation, simply stating that my tickets were nonrefundable, but that I did retain an airfare credit.

I have since appealed this issue, and @UnitedAirlines is working to help me resolve this. It remains to be seen if there will be a refund.

This situation frustrates me immensely. At this extremely difficult time in my life, I am left with yet another large, unnecessary and expensive problem that I have to spend precious time and mental energy dealing with.

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[photos|family] My Granddaddy Lake

Dr. Lloyd Euel Lake, Sr., was my paternal grandfather. He was a strange, complex man, who by turns in his life was a dentist, a Lieutenant Colonel in the U.S. Army, a land developer, an emergency responder, a retail store owner, an armed strike breaker, and an ordained minister in the Disciples of Christ. And those are just the careers I know about at this remove. He fell seriously ill around 1973, when I was nine, and died in 1977, when I was eleven. My family says he regarded me, his first grandchild, with a fierce joy unsurpassed. I once described him as holding me with a fierce, iron love one degree removed from cruelty.

These pictures turned up yesterday in an email exchange between myself, my sister and my dad. They tell you a lot about the role of nature versus nurture in forming who I have become in this life.

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My Granddaddy Lake at Rainbow Safari Ostrich Farm Volstruisplaas Oudtshoorn in March of 1969 — I don’t think I ever saw him so exuberantly happy in my young life

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Grandmother and Granddaddy on a bullock cart, probably in Rhodesia in 1969

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Granddaddy and Grandmother on camels, time and place unknown

Photos © unknown, ca. 1969. Scanned and curated by M. Lake.

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[family|child] On the nature of time and generations

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Dad at 49

That’s a photo of my Dad in Outer Mongolia, in 1992, when I and a group of friends and family went to see my parents there. (He was the U.S. ambassador to that country at the time.) Dad was 49 when we visited then. I just turned 49 this past Thursday.

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Me at 49

Sometimes when I look at [info]the_child I marvel at how old I have become. Not chronologically, but generationally. I mean, when I went to Outer Mongolia in 1992, Dad was unimaginably older than me. Now, in 2013, he is still unimaginably older than me. We’re just all 21 years older than our former selves.

It is the job of parents to go before their children. We break a trail for them through time, setting a path so they have something to rebel against, and if we’re lucky, eventually a guide to follow. [info]the_child right now is 15, and filled with that righteous anger at the weakness and venality of pretty much everyone else in the world, an emotion that seems hardwired into being aged 15. Someday she will look back at me and marvel.

The cycle of the generations proves to me that time isn’t linear, it’s cyclical, at least according to the secret calendars of the soul.


Photos © 1992, 2013, Joseph E. Lake, Jr. and T. Rotundo.

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This work by Joseph E. Lake, Jr. and T. Rotundo is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 United States License.

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[photos|family] Kool and the Gang head for the Portland revels

December 2012

[info]the_child, [info]tillyjane, the Niece and Lisa Costello head for the Portland Revels this past Sunday.

Photo — 2012 Mary Elizabeth Lake. All rights reserved, used with permission.

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[personal|family] The mystery of my grandfather Lake and the cracked safe

My grandfather Lake was, to put it mildly, quite the character. Though he fell quite ill when I was in grade school, and passed when I was in junior high, I have vivid if necessarily limited memories of him. He features prominently in my short fiction, perhaps most of all in “A Conspiracy of Dentists“, which is based on a true story about a box full of several hundred human teeth he’d kept for many years. (More about him here if you’re curious.)

Dad recently sent me some newspaper clippings from the Galveston Daily News, June, 1950. They’re about a theft from a store Granddaddy owned. Or maybe not. He comes across as a sort of low-rent noir character in these. Which wouldn’t be entirely inaccurate.

I give you the mystery of my grandfather Lake and the cracked safe. Unfortunately, the resolution of the matter appears to be lost to history.

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[photos|family] A day at the beach

This past Saturday evening, when the weather finally improved, we did manage a beach walk on the Long Beach peninsula. [info]the_child, the Niece, [info]lillypond (a/k/a my sister), my (step)mom and I spent about forty-five minutes strolling and enjoying the wind and waves.

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[family|cancer] Back to the hospital (not me this time)

Yesterday afternoon, [info]tillyjane (a/k/a my mom) called me to come take her to the ER. I’d finished my Day Jobbery, just capped off an hour of writing time on Going to Extremes, and was preparing for another long interview take on the documentary project.

Instead, Donnie Reynolds, Lisa Costello and I loaded up into Donnie’s car and raced across town in rush hour traffic to pick up my mom at her primary care clinic and transport her to her ER. Donnie brought his “B” camera, because we were shooting for a documentary about the lives of me and my family, after all.

We got [info]tillyjane to the ER, where a four-hour wait ensued. Along with some guerrilla filmmaking. My mom’s housemate A— showed up after a bit. Eventually [info]tillyjane was processed and admitted, which led to about four hours of hurry-up-and-wait testing. We recognized our ER nurse from prior visits, and he recognized us. That’s a frequent flyer club you don’t want to be a member of.

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In the end, the tests were inconclusive. The symptoms which had caused her to be referred to the ER did not recur. My mom was sent home somewhat after midnight. She has specialist followups, probably next week. For now, she is fine. A— Donnie and Lisa are all Heroes of the Revolution for being there and keeping both [info]tillyjane and me propped up and going.

As for me…

Her symptoms are not mine to describe here, but suffice to say they were closely akin to what drove my original hospital admission and cancer diagnosis back in 2008. That possibility won’t be ruled out until after her specialist followups. I am very frightened for her, far, far beyond anything justified by the clinical evidence or current medical opinion. I know this is my emotional trauma over cancer shouting loudly in my ear. It’s not logical. But it is very real.

Even if the worst happens, we know what to do. And it’s likely enough the worst won’t happen. Of course, that’s what they told me about my initial presentation. Cancer wasn’t even on the top five list of likely diagnoses. That’s what they told me about my initial metastasis, that it wasn’t at all likely to ever happen.

Once more, I am feeling the burn.


Photo © 2012, Joseph E. Lake, Jr.

Creative Commons License

This work by Joseph E. Lake, Jr. is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 United States License.

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[family] Happy Anniversary, baby

Today is my (step)mom and dad’s 41st wedding anniversary. Yes, they really did get married six days after my birthday, the year I turned seven. I have no idea what they were thinking, getting married so close to JayCon.

Later that year, in second grade at Morrison Academy, a Baptist missionary school in downisland Taiwan, I was sent home with a note telling my parents to punish me for lying as I’d written a little essay about being at their wedding. Ah, the good old days.

MEL & Jay 06-12-1971
Me at the front porch reception, with my sister just to the left

Jay 06-12-1971
Let them eat cake!

Jay 06-12-1971
Dad, throwing the garter

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Me explaining something to my Grandma Kessler

We were all young and beautiful once, weren’t we?

Happy anniversary, Mom and Dad.

Photo credits unknown.

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[personal|family] Happy Birthday to my mom

Today is the birthday of [info]tillyjane, a/k/a my mom. We’re having a family celebration a bit later this morning. I just wanted to wish her a happy birthday right here.

Thanks for a lot of wonderful years.

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