The First Cloned Cat

A couple years back, I conceived of a series which involved a fair amount of research about clones. I still perk up my ears when I see articles about clone advancements. People have been cloning their pet dogs for several years, but now the the first cat has been cloned.

Of particular interest:

For their pet cloning services, Mi says Sinogene hopes to someday transfer the memories of the original animals to their clones using artificial intelligence or man-machine interface technology, according to the Global Times

Words to Drive By “Room”

EPISODE 01: “Room”
(After the Storms, Part 1)

SUMMARY: In a near-future dystopia, two people check into a hotel room knowing only one will check out.

NOTES:
This story was first published in Devilfish Review (sadly, now defunct). It stands alone, but is the first part of a trilogy of stories called “After the Storms.”

A few years back I took a class taught by one of my favorite teachers,  Richard Rayner. Each week we were tasked to write 400 words from a prompt provided by Richard. This one was: 

A sick man and his younger wife check into a hotel room. He tells her a story and orders drinks which are brought by room service. The man has something to drink, says something, and then he dies.

I don’t remember what I turned in for my 400-word assignment, but it’s safe to guess that my constant and pervasive anxiety about climate change was already seeded in. The hotel room setting is inspired by The Hollywood Athletic Club, where, like Jerry and Beth, my husband and I took a weekend “staycation” one sweltering summer. 

Greg Gordon Smith composes and sound designs for this and every episode. You can see more of what he does on his Vimeo page

The cover art is by the talented and prolific Ted Giffin.

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When All That’s Left Is Love

February 10, 2019

A few days ago I went to a  memorial / celebration of life service for the husband of a friend who suffered an illness this year and died too soon. It was a beautiful service for a man who was a beautiful soul, and this is a poem that was read at his request.

I had  never heard it before and have been thinking about it, so I thought I’d share it here.

When All That’s Left Is Love

When I die
If you need to weep
Cry for someone
Walking the street beside you.
You can love me most by letting
Hands touch hands, and
Souls touch souls.
You can love me most by
Sharing your Simchas (goodness) and
Multiplying your Mitzvot (acts of kindness).
You can love me most by
Letting me live in your eyes
And not on your mind.
And when you say
Kaddish for me
Remember what our
Torah teaches,
Love doesn’t die
People do.
So when all that’s left of me is love
Give me away.

by Rabbi Allen S. Maller

Cancer Rears Its Head

Wednesday evening I came across this article by Roger Ebert and reposted it, with the status: “I love this guy.”   In Ebert’s post, he was talking about making some changes–pulling pack because of his health, but also looking forward to new interests and endeavors.  He also said,

At this point in my life, in addition to writing about movies, I may write about what it’s like to cope with health challenges and the limitations they can force upon you. It really stinks that the cancer has returned and that I have spent too many days in the hospital. So on bad days I may write about the vulnerability that accompanies illness. On good days, I may wax ecstatic about a movie so good it transports me beyond illness.

This was something that, when I read it, I found myself looking forward to.  Hearing what this smart and passionate man had to say about illness–about living with his illness.  For awhile that evening, he was on my mind.

On Thursday morning, I received an email from a friend of mine in Australia, S. In 2003, she and three other women had been roommates at a retreat I affectionately call “Cancer Camp.” She’d gotten in touch with two of the women, L and M, and we’d been planning a Skype reunion call.  But S’s email was to tell me that our plans might have to be put on hold because L is in the hospital.  Her cancer is now in her spine, her spinal fluid, and her brain. She recently had a shunt put into her brain and now she has had radiation to her throat, making her unable to talk. L was already Stage 4 when we met nine years ago. She had two little ones and was determined then to see them grow, and she’s done that. I hope she can continue to do that–but everything is fragile, and life doesn’t always continue just because we plan for it to–as I was reminded on Thursday afternoon, when I heard the news that Roger Ebert had died.

I Love My Husband–Anniversary Post

April 8th was Paul’s and my nine-year anniversary. I, of course, forgot. But as I was puttering around the kitchen I looked over and saw this:

I walked a little closer and saw this:

Nine years, you see, is pottery. So he bought me a bowl. It is an inexpensive bowl that looks a lot like many other bowls we have in our house, which is perfect. His thinking was, he wanted to get me something in the unlikely event that I would remember. But he didn’t want to get me anything too amazing, because in the more likely event that I would forget, he didn’t want to make me feel too guilty. It needed to be just enough to keep alive the knowledge that he is a slightly better person than me, and that I am lucky to have him. Which is true.

People who don’t know Paul don’t get it–not that there’s any reason they should, there’s not a lot of shiny packaging. But those who know him well enough totally understand. He’s like Judd Apatow and the Buddha, rolled into one, which I think is a big reason we’ve managed to survive some big stuff–life-threatening illnesses, family-planning disappointments, financial uncertainty–with relative equanimity. He’s really smart, but doesn’t lord it over you half as much as he could. He can hold lots of different things in his brain all at once, make decisions and drive at the same time. He’s a great problem-solver. And he’s an extremely good friend. Sometimes in bed I lie there with my fingers tangled through his hair, and think how much I love him.

Then I start hoping that neither of us dies too soon, which makes me start thinking about people dying, which takes me to a dark place.

But then he rolls over, and his morning breath in my face forces me to roll over too, and dark thoughts disperse when I see this: