Note: There is an interesting theory that the “X-pose” and blue skin displayed in the cover art has deeper significance in the occult and Freemasonry.
Note: There is an interesting theory that the “X-pose” and blue skin displayed in the cover art has deeper significance in the occult and Freemasonry.
arghandrawr said: Goddess of Knowledge, Music, and the Arts
Saraswati is the Hindu goddess of knowledge and the arts, embodies the wisdom of Devi. She is the river of consciousness that enlivens creation; she is the dawn-goddess whose rays dispel the darkness of ignorance. Without her there is only chaos and confusion. To realize her one must go beyond the pleasures of the senses and rejoice in the serenity of the spirit.
I started this eulogy one year ago today, a few hours after we left his body at the vet’s office, but I… just couldn’t do it. It was a first shot at processing losing him, the third corner of our household triangle. Instead, Lil and I cried. And cried. Walking home, we could feel him in the air around us, sparkling, telling us not to be sad. The hole he left in our lives was huge. Today, on the first anniversary of his death, I’m able to recount the tale of his life and how his story was woven into my own. A most magical and wise soul, my dearest friend-grandfather-baby-samurai-comics-co-pilot, Wedge Antilles Goldman.
In truth, Wedge found me, lost at age 21 in an apartment complex behind a Wal-Mart in Kendall, Florida. Leaving an all-nighter well after dawn, still-high and already late for work in my dad’s warehouse, my bleary-eyes spotted a fat brown toad crouched in the corner of the stairwell. But it wasn’t a toad, it was a tiny little kitten, likely born in the parking lot downstairs. He stared up at me with giant green eyes and mewed, leaping onto my sneaker to see if I was down to play. I was just a know-nothing kid, stumbling aimlessly through life on a cocktail of anti-depressents, cheap weed and cheaper hits of acid and Ecstasy; I had no girl, was on the outs with my roommate and I needed a pal. I remember thinking about getting a ferret but couldn’t afford one. Then this little striped gizmo of a kitten, no bigger than a grapefruit, pounced on my shoe and volunteered for the job, for life. I picked him up and he went belly-up in my arms, purring like a chainsaw. And yes, I named him after the Luke Skywalker’s wing-man from Star Wars. My geek-cred is strong, and we were life-partners for the next nineteen years.
I’d never had a cat before – wasn’t sure I even liked cats – so a few weeks later when Wedge scratched bloody grooves into my brand-new girlfriend’s arm and she suggested I get him declawed, I just did it. My dad recommended a veterinarian who was cheap (read: shady), who cleverly offered to declaw all four paws “for safety”. Knowing nothing, I agreed, only realizing when I picked my boy up from the hospital how barbaric the procedure was. I yelled at the vet, almost punched him in the mouth when I saw little Wedge, doped to the gills, bloody bandages around all four paws (and stitches where his little balls had been… a fat payday for the vet). Wedge looked up at me woozily like “what the fuck just happened to me?” and went back to sleep on my armrest. I’ll never forgive my ignorance; declawing cats should be outlawed.
College ended in slow-motion, and Wedge and I moved from my apartment in Coral Gables (which Wedge kept spectacularly flea-infested for a blistering Miami summer by escaping through the ground-floor windows at night) to an apartment on South Beach’s most dangerous block (this was 1997). There were crack dealers living above and below us, and crackheads climbing like spiders past my window on the drainpipes all night. I had nothing worth stealing so nobody fucked with us, but there was bad energy in the apartment: for the first few months, I’d have dreams of my bedroom that I didn’t appear in and wake up feeling someone else in the room. I’d been reading lots into chaos magic and decided to take mushrooms and clean the joint out myself. Sitting on the floor of the apartment as the trip kicked in, Wedge sat up tall behind me on the bed as a shape emerged from the paint on the walls. This was the first time I’d ever actively done any sort of spell and Wedge literally supported with me energy and focus. Together we sealed the room, then the kitchen and living room of this other presence using a combination of chewing gum, an Autechre CD, yellow highlighters, my blood and oil pastels. The apartment behaved itself until the day we moved out.
One morning, my (human) roommate Michael and I woke up in South Beach and all the interesting international weirdos we’d made spent a year hanging out with were just gone. Something special in the air had gone and it was time to follow it to new adventures. We saved some dough from our bookstore jobs, packed everything into a U-Haul and moved to Brooklyn, arriving on July 4th, 1998 in time to be greeted by rooftop fireworks. I was totally unprepared for New York City on every level: I didn’t have enough money, didn’t have a game plan, didn’t really understand what to expect. That made me grow up fast.
We’d scored a large apartment in a mostly-Polish Greenpoint above a butcher who was also our landlord, and my bedroom smelled of sausage. Wedge’s first winter came fast. One night, after hanging at friend’s place nearby, I was walking home as a blizzard hit. Turning onto my street, I heard a cat crying, actually I heard Wedge crying. I looked all over the street for him, cried out to the snow and it cried back, but I just didn’t see him. Then I looked up: Wedge had gotten out of our third-story window and navigated two blocks’ worth of Brooklyn rain-gutters, but either got lost or couldn’t find a spot to turn around. He’d been out there for several hours when he saw me coming down the sidewalk at 2am. His eyes lit up when we made eye contact and I led him back to our building. I had to lean my body halfway out the window (yes I almost slipped out and died) before he jumped into my arms, wet and shivering. Curled up that night in a blanket, he alternated between purring against me and sneezing on my chest.
After about a year, we moved out of that apartment on our own, living in Nolita for a month in a share I found in the Village Voice. The new roommate was a computer programmer whose bedroom literally hummed with wooden closets that contained a server farm. He slept on a futon mattress on top of them. He had two pets: a smelly cocker spaniel with leaky eyes and a orange cat that would sneak into my room and piss on my bed if the door was left open even a crack. Wedge hated these guys, and when I’d come home from work, I’d find him hanging out high atop the kitchen cabinets, only coming down to be let into our room. Late one night, the reason why came clear when whimpering sounds came from the other side of my door, low hairball sounds. I slid it open and turned on the light, only to find the cocker spaniel pinning the orange cat to the ground and hammering away it (they were both males). Apparently the dog fucked the cat on the regular as it happened again as long as I lived there. The cat didn’t seem to mind either; I mean, he still had his claws… but clearly sharing this 1BR wasn’t going to work in the long-term for Wedge or myself. I gave the programmer my 30-day notice without having another place to jump to, frantically NYC-house-hunting as the clock ticked down to our homelessness. Bumping into a buddy in the street who I met working on a film shoot, he said he actually needed another roommate desperately and asked if I could come out to Brooklyn to check out “the house”… It was a house, in fact, four bedrooms’ worth he shared with his bandmates in the south side of Park Slope, Brooklyn. We moved in with just a few days to spare.
For the next few years, Wedge enjoyed life as an indoor/outdoor cat, coming and going as he pleased. My bedroom was upstairs overlooking the garden and opened onto the roof of a never-finished tool shed that he used to get in and out. My roommates were tall shaggy dudes in the kind of tall shaggy dude rock band that was popular in ’00. I was a quasi-disciplined unpublished cartoonist. None of us gave a shit about gardening, so the backyard was untended and overgrown with an old cement stone picnic table and benches in the center of the weeds. I remember coming home one summer afternoon to find Wedge sitting on that table, ignoring me, his gaze transfixed. I looked across the yard to find the biggest, meanest fightin’ black tomcat in the neighborhood set on his haunches, his eyes locked with Wedge. The tom was in prowling posture, taking slow steps along the fence towards Wedge’s garden territory. I could hear him growling. I was terrified for my boy, being half this tom’s size and without claws even on his back legs, but Wedge didn’t spook, didn’t budge. The tom advanced, nearly in the yard, but Wedge sat upright and calm, green eyes wide. I watched (and felt) them stare at each other for almost an hour, waiting for the territorial violence to erupt at any moment. But like the samurai stories of old, they fought the battle in their minds. The tom’s posture relaxed to match Wedge’s upright calm: RESPECT. When he turned around and walked back across the fence, Wedge’s concentration broke, he turned to me and meowed, inquiring about his lunch. My little kitty was a far greater warrior than I’d given him credit for.
The shaggy rock band guys moved out, my little brother moved in, some roommates came and went. Somewhere in-between, I’d lived alone in the house for a month. Coming home from work one day, I opened the front door to find Wedge waiting for me at the bottom of the stairs, his eyes telling me not to go upstairs. I heard noises coming from my room, then a crash: were we getting robbed? There wasn’t much to steal but I took off my shoes, took a large knife from the kitchen and pussyfooted my way upstairs. Being the summertime, the window was left open for Wedge to live his live freely… and there in my bedroom, laying on my bed, climbing my bookshelves, was a full-on neighborhood cat party in full-swing. There must have been ten cats in my room, even that mean black tom from the backyard fence was in the house. I wondered how many times this had happened before. They all froze, staring at me when I entered the doorway and lit out through the open window one after the other. Wedge waited a minute and followed me into the bedroom, guiltily. I didn’t care much, busted or not, it was pretty damn adorable.
We lived in this house with my brother and a lady roommate when 9/11 happened, and I watched the Twin Towers fall from the rooftop. City life got weirder from there, though it looked more like today than anything. My job status was reappraised weekly, able to end at any moment. While I still had a job, there were beans-and-rice nights at my place for our hungry freelancing friends whenever they needed it. The city bounced back quickly but very different and kind of broken. I’d started writing a new comic series about a real estate agency for haunted houses in Brooklyn, but once the 9/11 panic mellowed, I visited my divorced mom down in Florida and felt those realtor characters much more deeply as being a Miami story. I came back to NY to pack up my part of the house and moved back to Miami for a year or so for me to work on the script and my digital artwork chops.
Bringing Wedge back to Florida again meant he could disappear for afternoons to come home and barf up lizard feet and heads on the living room floor, spend his days sleeping outside in the sunny grass and his nights with me on the couch, watching me play video games and nuzzling any visiting friends. But there was no community for artists to make money in pre-Basel Miami, and my NYC savings burned off quickly. Everything stalled and after a year, it was time to move back to Brooklyn.
By the time I stepped out of the cab from JFK in front of my brother’s apartment in Midwood, I had my cat carrier, a shoebox of books, a duffle bag of clothing and less than thirty bucks to my name. My brother’s girlfriend had moved in with him and their offer of temporary sanctuary was, you know, temporary from go. I found some work, stayed at my brother’s about a week too long, and found a Craiglist share on Canal Street with a very strange middle-aged stoner with no teeth. He had a cat too, a fatty who did not want Wedge around and went after him whenever he left our bedroom. But Wedge was a warrior and all we lived there in disharmony for six months, surviving the winter in peaceful chaos. I mention this chapter for a simple reason: we were living here when we met Lilli.
I was single for a long time. Girls I’d bring home would coo at Wedge, he’d enjoy the bonus pettings, but he never engaged with anyone I’d dated. He’d sniff them and walk away, show them his asshole and watch us fool around from the windowsill with a bored look on his face. I used to joke with him that he was protecting me from the crazy ones, of which there are loads of in this city. But one night, I went out for Indian food with a Brazilian girl I met online named Lilli and somehow gotten her to come upstairs to *airquotes* meet my cat. Shameless, I know… but that’s where I was at in my life. But Wedge? He melted like butter. And she melted like butter. They fell in love with each other. I’d never seen him act like that with anyone else before. He nuzzled her and actually licked her like a dog. He never licked me. I got jealous.
Naturally, I screwed things up with Lilli as I did with everyone I dated back then. We stopped seeing each other after a few months. Things devolved with the roommate as you could already tell was coming, culminating with my finding his black leather “doctor’s bag” full of sex toys, scalpels, knives… and a loaded pistol. Knife collector? Whatever. Into fetish stuff? Not my business. Loaded gun? This is New York City. But items together in a to-go bag? Serial killer. It was clearly time to move again. And I didn’t want to have any more roommates; I wanted a home for me and my boy. Manhattan simply wasn’t within my financial reach but Brooklyn was cheaper in 2003, and I found a studio off Flatbush Avenue in Park Slope that was tiny and perfect. We moved out while the roommate was at work. I got us settled with my half-broken futon, put my clothes away in milkcrates I got from the corner deli after I stopped in for a celebratory tall bottle of Guinness and some vinegar potato chips. The studio was quiet and we sat there together, just breathing in our new home. Wedge fell asleep on my chest while I read old samurai comics. All was truly right with the world.
And there were lived, me and Wedge. My comics work started to get noticed as my brother and I self-published a few graphic novel projects together, pulling caffeinated all-nighters to send books out off to press around our day-job schedules. When I had the time, I dated a lot… but Wedge never licked any of them. One early morning, I was crawling out of someone I’d just met’s Alphabet City apartment covered in hickees and hungover on the too-bright subway, when I noticed someone looking at me from across the train. It was Lilli, from a few paragraphs ago. We chatted and re-exchanged numbers to grab a clearly-defined “Coffee-As-Friends” together. And we did, staying in touch and becoming slowly closer over several years. She’d come over and watch films or we’d meet in Chinatown and walk around during late hours, we’d complain to each other about the knuckleheads we were both dating, always innocent between us. The tension was there but we liked just being friends. No one was happier than Wedge. I remember watching OLD BOY on a bootleg Chinatown DVD with Lilli while Wedge stared at me throughout the film, his eyes beaming at me: “You idiot, the one you’re looking for is right there in front of you.”
Idiot indeed. It took until the following November before I admitted my feelings her and mustered up the courage to tell her. The moment I did, the Universe tilted around us. She stayed over and never totally went back home, just stopped by went to pick up fresh clothes. That New Years Eve at my place, I gave her copies of the keys, and by February 1st she moved everything into “our” home. The apartment was a small 300sq foot studio, tiny even by Brooklyn standards, and what was perfect for a single-artist-and-cat live/work situation was upped to a double live/work, but Lil came with a loft kit. We raised the bed up to the ceiling and her desk and tools were underneath us. Wedge was frustrated the first few hours, cut off from his favorite humans up top before he figured out his own path to the top bunk, a chair-to-table-to-mantlepiece-to-top-bunk route. It was the three of us then, strong as steel, warm as the sun, watching the winter turn to spring together.
Sometime in April, Lil and I exchanged rings (she made them) and got married at home with Wedge as our witness. When we went to City Hall to do the White Man’s Paperwork. When we went into the municipal chapel for our 90-second ceremony, we’d already been wearing those rings for a month.
Around this time, I’d gotten a publishing contract and a lot of acclaim on my first big webcomic-to-print graphic novel, and we moved to a larger space in South Williamsburg with shady Hassidic landlords who’d filled the crumbling building with tenants illegally. The two years we spent there were darkened with rent disputes, leaking ceilings and tenant-strike meetings. My work was getting higher-profile and crazier. The hours and months and years I spent at the drafting table, Wedge dutifully served as my co-pilot, helping me focus, sending me his energies to make sure I could work these stupid hours to make my publishers’ unrealistic deadlines.
Every once in a while though, for no apparent reason, I’d find a turd on my pillow. Assuming it wasn’t my wife (SPOILER: it wasn’t), I’d get angry at Wedge. I thought he was acting out, not getting enough attention from me. Topping that off, the closest laundromat was eight blocks away, which is awful in the wintertime. I had no idea at the time that it was his way of telling us he didn’t feel well.
After he went almost a week with pooping, we took him to the vet, who dramatically recommended hospitalization to rehydrate him and the possibility of “surgically removing the impacted stool from his colon” if it came to that. Lil was traveling home to Brazil to see her family and Wedge still hadn’t pooped, and we were both terrified. She went to the airport not knowing if this was goodbye or not. In the morning, I took Wedge to the Vet Hospital in Manhattan and came home with $1200 bill and a bag of feline enemas to try as a last-ditch before an in-patient visit. The moment he got home from the hospital, he immediately copped a squat in his litter box, let out a cry of constipated pain and shit a horrific rope of a turd. I was relieved, I hugged him, then wondered if he had my spent half of this month’s rent from up there, too. He did not. The other thing the hospital told me, in non-urgent terms, was that Wedge’s heart was healthy but his kidneys tested as weak. This condition was common in cats of his age (15 years old) and tended to be the “beginning of a slow decline” towards CRF (chronic renal failure), an ultimately fatal disease. I took it to heart but he seemed so much better after a few kitty enemas, back to normal even.
Then crazy shit happened: our building rent strike heated up again and we realized how tired of the constant fighting… of the landlords, of New York City’s never-ending freelance grind, the tension that was bleeding into everything. We needed a break, and decided quite spontaneously to leave town, leave the country. There was a whole world out there after all… First stop would be Miami to spend the holidays with my family, then down to São Paulo to relax and work on my haunted realtor comic, which I’d sold to the online rights for to a SF website. From there, the sky was the limit… right?
I blinked and we’d given away or sold 85% of our possessions, blinked again and we’d loaded a minivan with what remained, blinked again and the three of us were in a hotel room a block from the beach in Florida with the A/C blasting. Wedge was thrilled the entire drive from Brooklyn to Miami, nestled between us on a pillow for a nonstop 2-day petting session.
I blinked again and we were living in a tiny student apartment in the Japanese neighborhood of Liberdade in São Paulo. I blinked again and the global economy crashed, my dollars worth less than half their normal value. We’d moved into a nicer apartment in São Paulo only to watch my US/foreign freelance work dwindle down to zero and my Brazilian workpapers never materialized. Lil went to work with her family to keep us afloat while I stayed home, making those haunted-real-estate comics and publishing them to the web. The decade I’d spent building a career was slipping away, and I got really depressed. But Wedge remained my co-pilot, by my side every day for the three years we spent in Brazil.
The thing was: his kidneys had really started deteriorating now. His posture changed, he sat on his haunches a lot, was sluggish, looked drunk. There was a night where was a puddle under the kitchen counter and looked like he was dying. We rushed through São Paulo traffic to get him to a vet, who told us: “Yes, of course he’s going to die, you should just get a new cat.” We found a less-dickish vet named Tomás who put Wedge on a weekly regimen of IV ringer lactate solution that we also learned to administer subcutaneously at home. Wedge would get dried-out and sickly-looking when his kidneys were “crashing”, but he’d perk back up after getting his fluids, usually stayed happy for a week or so. We kept him alive, with Tomás’ help, for those three years in São Paulo. At one point, I’d visited NYC and brought back a canister of Trader Joe’s Cat Treats. Wedge went crazy-balls for them; they only lasted a month, and I made him a promise: if he made it back to the States with us, he would have those those treats every day for the rest of his life.
On January 9, 2013, after months of saving and planning, Wedge and I arrived back in NYC. Lil would join us a week later after our Brazilian rental paperwork was finalized (there’s paperwork on everything down there). The air travel was tough on him: he was very thirsty after the 15+ hours in transit with a connecting flight in Bogotá, customs at JFK and an hour in a taxi to our friends’ home in Inwood that first night. Wedge flopped out of his carrier and drank several bowls of water before returning to himself… but I could see how taxing the travel was for him. The next day, once we’d set up camp at the AirBnB, I was finally able to give him his fluids again… but he looked older already.
The three of us spent a few months bouncing around between few short-term rentals while trying to get ourselves a proper apartment, which we took over in March. We slowly re-established our groove, and things were going smoothly. Wedge did get his Trader Joe’s treats every day as promised, perking up when I unscrewed the canister for play-time and chasing the treats across the floor like a kitten until his kidney problems inevitably knocked him down again. We could see the end really was coming this time, and soon. It was something Lil and I discussed all the time: at what point was he just suffering? When was the moment when you knew?
The year before, we’d visited an old friend of mine in Miami. His old childhood dog was sick and we saw them on one of the last days with him before putting him to sleep. While sitting around their living room chatting over beers, their dog’s kept failing him and he’d keel falling over on its side behind the couch we were sitting on. The meat-sound of the poor thing knocking the wind out of itself as it fell on its side over and over again stays with me, and we drove away talking about Wedge, about when would we know the moment when it was time to help him go. At that point, he wasn’t there… and I truly hoped I wouldn’t have to do that. That he’d pass on his own. But that was the coward’s road.
We watched him, cared for him closely. He ate less, drank more, needed the prescription food we’d been feeding him since Brazil to be hand-mixed into more of a paste. He’d eat a little bit three times a day, his solutions administered every other day, then daily. But he took them all like a champ, cuddling with us in the cold, letting us know how much he loved us daily. His body hurt him, but he wanted to stay with us. And we wanted him to stay.
Then I went off to Comic-Con, and a record heat wave hit New York City. I was in breezy sunny San Diego when Lil called me form our sweltering apartment to tell me Wedge had stopped eating. We’d been told by more seasoned pet owners that was the last sign, that your friend is ready to go now and is starting the dying process for themselves. She was crying but I was away for days yet. She begged Wedge to hold on for me to come home.
I finally returned on Monday night. When I got there, he was waiting for me diligently by the door, all skin and bones, dark circles under his eyes. “He’s been waiting there for days for you. I told him you were coming back and he’s been parked there since. He wanted to say goodbye.” I picked him up, this little stick of a cat, and held him to me. His breath smelled bad too, acrid. These are moments you face with pets. You know you’re going to have to say goodbye; for me and Wedge, we’d been together half my life nearly all of his. For Lil, he was her first pet that she’d intimately bonded with. I had artwork on my plate that needed to be done, but that next morning, Wedge still hadn’t eaten, and the liquids just weren’t doing anything anymore. I stayed home with him on the bed, my laptop on my chest and Wedge nestled in my armpit. We stayed together all day, his hip bones poking into me every time he moved.
And that very next day the “he’ll tell you when they’re ready to go” moment happened. It wasn’t anything dramatic: I went out to the deli for some vegetables, and when I came home, Wedge was sitting in his litterbox. Not doing any business, just sitting in there in his dried pee. He looked up at me and I just felt his eyes drill into me and felt it, heard it in my head: “I’m done. I’m ready to go now.” I didn’t say anything to Lil until the next day. He still hadn’t eaten.
From an onsite freelance job the next day, I called his old Brooklyn vet and made an appointment to have him “looked at” in the morning, but once I explained the condition he was in, we both knew how this visit was going to end. I hung up, went outside for some air and called Lil to tell her about the appointment. When she got the news, Wedge was sitting in her lap and she started bawling. I told her she at least had the whole day with him to say goodbye, while I was stuck working and would have to wake up early to spend my goodbye time with him. I was working on a TV show at the time, and to top things off, the week’s episode that I had to watch repeatedly for details involved the slow and graphic execution of a prison inmate. My stomach churned the entire day.
When I got back home, Lil was with Wedge on the bed. He was panting, a furry little skeleton, but when I came in, he lit up, turning into an alert kitten again. I cried and nuzzled his stomach and he held my fingers with his paws. He was playful, clear-eyed, and I asked Lil: “Are we… being rash? He seems pretty okay to me now. Maybe we should wait another day or…”
Before the sentence left my mouth, Wedge got to his feet and moved next to the nightstand on my side, where he tensed up and had diarrhea all over my pillow. I wasn’t mad; I couldn’t be. I just nodded. Message received loud and clear, my love. I spent my last night with Wedge without my pillow, but the three of us all tangled up with each other one last time. It was sad and tense and wonderful.
The morning was a blur, getting him ready. Calling the car service, I felt like the executioner. From the moment I woke up, tears were just streaming down my face, lightly but never stopping as I stroked him and prepped him and wondered if he understood this was his last day on earth. We rode to the vet’s office in quiet, Wedge with his hand on my hand inside his carrier. Lil and I both approached hysteria in slow-motion.
And the vet’s office? The fucking procedure? I’ve relived that behind my eyes so many times now. It still hurts and I’m not going to go into detail about that. But I will share this one moment: the vet had both her needles prepped and we were seconds away from the end of his life. Lil and I kissed the top of his head, and he sat up straight, like he did years before in the garden, taller than his emaciated frame had in a long time. He opened his green eyes wide and I feel into them, into a warm green sea, the deeper emerald flecks flashing like lighting around me. A vibration entered my eyes, hummed down my face, buzzed inside my ribcage. This was it, this was our real goodbye. We stared into each other’s souls for a long instant — me and the little kitten I’d cared for his entire life who’d grown old and cared for me for this half of mine — and I could feel him pushing these emotions at me: I LOVE YOU I LOVE YOU THANK YOU I LOVE YOU… It wasn’t anything more complicated, but there honestly doesn’t anything greater or purer than that on this world. And seconds, he was gone.
There was a credit card slip to sign, talk of “disposal options”… but I was choking down this red rage: rage at the vet, at time, at his shitty little kidneys that kept him from staying with us forever. I hissed through my teeth… but stopped myself. He had an long and extraordinary life, longer than most cats, and two people who loved him intensely. How could I rail against the universe on his behalf? He was the luckiest of street cats; he’d hit the jackpot with me and Lil, shitty kidneys aside. We left his blue canvas cat carrier (the one he rode to Brazil and back in) on top of a trash can around the corner from the vet’s office and went down to sit in a little park by the East River, where I sobbed harder and deeper than I have ever cried in my life, a wail I failed to produce at either of my grandparent’s funerals that roared out of me then like a tidal wave, leaving me exhausted.
After a time, things quieted down some and we walked home, and I could feel him in the air around us, like champagne fizz. And sad as I was, I also felt relieved. Watching his slow deterioration, monitoring him with the constant care, the creeping knowledge that this day was coming started a few years before, and now it had just passed. That tension in my gut could relax. He didn’t hurt anymore, we’d set him free. Of course we did, we loved him. We still do.
Lil and I stopped at a bar for whiskey and french fries and teary-toasted the incredible life of a magical cat, and the passing of a member of our family. We laughed a little and cried a little more. The sadness ebbed out until we felt we could make it the rest of the way home. But once we got there, everything came crashing back down again. When we opened the door: his kitty fountain was still bubbling and his last canister of uneaten Trader Joe’s treats were still on the kitchen table, that tidal wave of sadness hit us again then, fucking flattened us into snot-dribbling and puffy-eyed puddles… because there was nowhere else to escape the fact that our house was emptier by a third, that our little grandpa-baby was gone.
That first month without Wedge was tough and Lil and I each processed it in our own ways, but every passing month it got easier. A few days after we put him to sleep, I was taking a shower when I saw his green eyes on the veterinarian’s table all around me again, falling into them right there at the end. Of course I was crying, but his eyes, that moment, our THANK YOU FOR MY LIFE I LOVE YOU GOODBYE moment… that was what I wanted to hold on to and take with me through the rest of my days.
We didn’t keep his ashes in the end. The “disposal” options the vet offered us were crude and frankly disgusting, an expensive sentimental option for a belief system I don’t even hold to: when the light goes out, what’s left is just empty meat to me. I didn’t want to keep his dead material, I wanted to memorialize his living essence, how much he’d meant to me, what he’d taught me along the way about loving and living. I jumped out of the shower and slapped this together in Photoshop:
Which later became these:
And now here we are today, one year to the day later. I took this photo just before I sat down to write this. We lit candles and burned incense for him with his remaining favorite cat treats.
The week after Wedge left his body, both my work and Lil’s kicked into high gear and neither has slowed down since. And while these last 12 months have flown by, it hasn’t been a blur at all, but with a very conscious, deliberate quickness. A savoring and appreciating everything we touch that comes from knowing that this life is temporary, we are temporary, and the rare moments when we can communicate what much we mean to each other are the most important ones we have.
A great resource on Feline Chronic Renal Failure:
During Wedge’s later years, I did a lot of concerned-papa reading on Tanya’s Comprehensive Guide to Feline Chronic Kidney Disease to stay on top of changes that were happening as his CRF got worse, and I can’t recommend this page (thank its keeper Helen) enough. What would’ve been terrifying and left me at the mercy of of any money-hungry veterinarian instead helped Lil and I navigate and treat Wedge at home, tweaking his diet and administering fluids that kept him alive and happy for several more years after the first vet told us to put him to down. Tanya’s Page is a personal and sensitive resource that will help anyone treat cats suffering from CRF from early stages on through its final hours.
from the ‘Neon’ collection by Brazilian photographer Hid Saib
Laurie Lipton:Darkly, Funny Drawings
The Drawings of Laurie Lipton, published by Last Gasp, is a comprehensive survey of Lipton’s fantastical, meticulously detailed, hand-drawn images.
Now there’s someone who likes detail.
Thousands of Brazilians lost their homes when the World Cup stadiums were constructed. 1Week1Project’s Casa Futebol concept invites them back.
After many years on the graphic novel and webcomics corners of the comics biz, my very first superhero story has just been published by Valiant Comics. While in Los Angeles a few months ago, the lovely Joshua Dysart asked to me contribute to this final issue #25 and I couldn’t say no… and now my story “Cold Brains” is out in the world, illustrated by Clayton Henry. Also in the issue is work by Joshua himself, Vivek Tiwary, Justin Jordan, Khari Evans, Lucy Knisley, Lewis Larosa, Barry Kitson, Rafer Roberts… there’s even a con-exclusive cover by Gilbert Hernandez. HARBINGER #25 is in stores now, also available on Comixology.
And just like that… fave band of 2014-Thus-Far: Future Islands. This is them playing Letterman (obvs). Lotta soul in that voice.
An incredible picture of a soul leaving the body
THIS STARTLED ME A BIT OKAY
Vertigo is a mess. As far as I understand their contracts have been getting worse and worse in recent years, & I think they’re pretty tight on owning film rights— and I’ve heard about them changing creators work against their will. (which brings up an interesting idea that I don’t think some people working in editorial get that doing that is not cool) or censoring work. (Hellblazer for one)
Plus doing work at Vertigo is still tied to all the issues I have with DC. It’s all the same company in the same building with the same dirty laundry. I’m always frustrated at the notion that it was ever an indy or whatever scene. a It’s like the Hot topic of comics but with less integrity. And that’s not to say that they didn’t put out some fantastic books (Heavy Liquid, Transmet) but it does say something about doing anything with an anti corporate tinge to it when you’re paychecks come from time warner. You’re working for the man, man.
It is an interesting spot now, because for the most part creators who have the option to do creator owned work somewhere else will. You can see how the vast majority of guys who were the most Vertigo in past years are all moving elsewhere. You can put your ear to the ground and hear the stampede.
so for Vertigo to compete with Image or wherever I think they would have two options (1) to take some real risks and bring in new talent. Which is something that Vertigo has always been pretty bad at.— & (2) make contracts that really compete with what Image has to offer. —(Image contracts were made by creators to serve their own kind—. thanks Image dudes!) which I don’t expect to ever happen anywhere not run by people who make the books themselves..
I think if they were smart they would have put some serious weight behind Ron “D-pi” Wimberly. I feel like he’s the real deal and is that rare kind of creator who could be pushed like a Paul Pope or a Morrison.
But Ron;s amazing book Prince of cats came out from a company who mostly deals in monthlies as a one shot graphic novel with little fanfare and is already out of print. ( I would love to see it escape to Image to be treated as well as it deserves)
Aside from all my obvious venom, I do think it would be interesting if Vertigo survived or got it shit together. I don’t see DC going anywhere and having more places for interesting books would be a bonus to comics— I would drastically prefer more of that than more of the same endless retreading the same ground Superhero comics—
Started my day w. this process/philosophy video on how Dustin Lance Black (Milk, Big Love) works & thinks. Lots of great stuff in here.