This morning at my day job, I got an email from my dad: Chip is still alive but I don’t think he has many days let. I’m starting to think he’s near the point where it’s selfish to try to keep him going.
Which makes this either the worst day or the best day to write a post about my pets and my writing.
I replied to the email, telling my dad to do what he thought was right, and then I went to the bathroom and cried. No matter how many times you go through it — and I’ve said goodbye to a number of pets by now — cat death sucks.
Chip is my cat; we got him and his brother, Tuck, when I was 14. He and I haven’t lived in the same house since I left for college almost a decade ago, but every time I come home to visit he be waits for me by the door, flop his 18-pound, orange-and-massively-fluffy self on the floor, and demand his ears be scratched. I’ll miss him.
But I’m pissed at the universe that only gave him twelve years on this particular plane of existence. Cats may have nine lives, but I want more of Chip’s to be with me. Or at least for him to get a few years longer in this one. I’m pissed at cancer. I’m pissed at surgery that won’t work and chemo that would just make him miserable. I’m pissed at myself that I’ve only been home once in the last six months, and won’t get to see him again. I’m pissed at death.
Cats have always been part of my life and always part of my work, whether that’s as characters in my stories or adorable distractions from actually writing those stories. I’ve never been able to spend a day on a laptop or proofreading a manuscript without a cat sprawling across it or walking off with my pen.
A lot of the work I do is about death. My cowriter, Racheline Maltese and I, write contemporary LGBTQ romance about fame, private lives, and desire. Our books also have a heavy thread of magical realism running through them. And in one way or another, nearly all of them are about death.
Sometimes, they’re about how fame is like death (they both remove a person from the world!) Sometimes they’re about the logistics of death (Funeral planning is an agonizing time to be good at keeping calendars and schedules!) Sometimes it’s about learning how to exist in the present when there’s death in your past (Therapy is good; being resilient sucks!)
What our work is always about, though, is how death is a part of life. Not just in the circle-of-life, ashes-to-ashes dust-to-dust sort of way, although that’s true too. It’s about how death, like weather, is a thing we have to deal with on a daily basis, whether that’s planning a funeral, getting that email about an old friend, or knowing it’s time to put a beloved four-legged companion down.
And so these last couple of days, while I wait for that last email from my dad to tell me Chip’s gone (It’s a kindness for him to email me, rather than call; that way I don’t have to cry in front of anyone), I’ve kept going. Both because I have to, to keep on top of my deadlines, and because I have to, to keep my own focus and sanity going. Pet death sucks. But I have revisions to do and new chapters to write and marketing emails to send, and my own two kittens that my partner and I adopted this past spring, to cuddle and take care of.
The writing is a place to protect myself from, and work my way through, everything that sucks about losing a pet. I’m grateful for that outlet. I’m grateful for the time I had with Chip. And right now, I am really way more grateful than I usually am, for my cats who always find a way to distract me from my to-do list. Even when it’s them trying really, really hard to catch that weird moving arrow thing on the screen.
Title: Doves (Love in Los Angeles Book 2)
Publisher: Torquere Press
Date Published: January 21, 2015
Genre: M/M Contemporary Romance
Word Count: 90,300
Use discount code sweetheart2015 to get 14% off books from Torquerebooks.com
The ties that bind…
Two years after the events of Starling, Cinderella story and star of The Fourth Estate J. Alex Cook is living happily ever after with his boyfriend, television writer Paul Marion Keane. But when Paul’s pilot, Winsome, AZ, gets picked up, the competing demands of their high-profile careers make them question their future together.
…can tear you apart
As Paul becomes increasingly absent from their relationship, Alex tries to regain control of his private life and establish a career path independent of Fourth’s enigmatic, and at times malevolent, showrunner Victor. But the delicate web of relationships that connects Alex, Paul, and their friends — including Alex’s excitable ex-lover Liam and his no-nonsense fiancée Carly — threatens to unravel.
With the business of Hollywood making it hard to remember who he is when the whole world isn’t watching, Alex is forced to confront major changes in the fairytale life he never wanted as he discovers that love in Los Angeles often looks nothing like the movies.
Alex is almost asleep when the yowling starts. Todd has never been thrilled about being banned from both bedrooms, particularly since Alex and Paul been avoiding the house’s common areas as well, and has taken out his frustration with midnight howling and scratching at their doors before. He usually gets tired of it after a few minutes, but tonight seems to be an exception. Every time Alex thinks he’s stopped, he hears the cat thunder down the stairs and then up the other flight to Paul’s loft, before the yowling begins again and the whole process repeats in reverse.
It’s absurd, and aggravating, and Alex really would like to sleep without a demon running around his house. By the sixth or seventh iteration of the cat steeplechase from hell, he has had enough. He throws off the covers and storms to the door, for his own satisfaction more than any practical effect. It’s not like the fucking cat cares.
“Paul!” he yells, while Todd utters a joyous mew and shoots past Alex’s feet into the room. When he doesn’t get a response, he just yells louder. “PAUL!”
“What?” Paul shouts as he bangs out of his bedroom.
“Your cat is driving me crazy,” Alex shouts.
“He’s your cat too!”
“It has been a very long, very hard night, and now there is a hellion getting fur on my bed.”
“Shouldn’t’ve opened the door!” Paul yells back. He’s clearly trying not to laugh.
Alex turns and looks back at Todd, who is happily building himself a nest in the blankets. “Paul’s door is open now too,” Alex says conversationally. “You could go bother him.”
Todd purrs and keeps kneading the bedding. Alex sighs.
“Paul. Marion. Keane,” he yells, and clomps halfway down the stairs so he can lean over the railing and see the loft. “Come get your creature out of my bed.”
“Alex,” Paul says, his voice softening but still plenty audible and slightly scolding.
“Did you want to come over?”
“To your room?” Alex asks. He feels as stunned by the unprecedented invitation as he has by a dozen different things tonight, just in a much better way.
When Alex nods, Paul beams. “Well, come on, then. Leave the cat.”
Erin McRae and Racheline Maltese are authors of the gay romance series Love in Los Angeles, set in the film and television industry (Starling (September 10, 2014), Doves (January 21, 2015), and Phoenix (June 10, 2015)), all from Torquere Press. Their gay romance novella Midsummer (Love’s Labour 1), about a summerstock Shakespeare company, is from Dreamspinner Press (May 2015). They also have a story in Best Gay Romance 2015 from Cleis Press and edited by Felice Picano. Racheline is a NYC-based performer and storyteller; Erin is a writer and blogger based in Washington, D.C. They write stories and scripts about the intersection of private lives, fame, and desire. You can find them on the web at http://www.Avian30.com.
Joint Blog: http://Avian30.com
Joint Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/Erin.and.Racheline
Erin’s Twitter: https://twitter.com/erincmcrae
Racheline’s Twitter: https://twitter.com/racheline_m
Erin’s Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/8323893.Erin_McRae
Racheline’s Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/1015335.Racheline_Maltese
Erin’s Amazon Author Page: http://www.amazon.com/Erin-McRae/e/B00M7A0SVC
Racheline’s Amazon Author Page: http://www.amazon.com/Racheline-Maltese/e/B001JRVS2C