We’d been friends for long time before she started Wapshott Press. It was a small venture dedicated to publishing poetry and fiction. Sometime around 2007, Ginger Mayerson decided that she wanted to try branching out into academic works. Because I was professor, she called and asked if I could recommend anyone who might have something appropriate.
“Well…” I answered immediately, “Me.”
And so we went to work converting my dissertation into a book. We joked about how easy life was going to be after all that “Victorian lady playwright” money was going to start rolling in, but did have hopes that the book might get picked up by some Theatre History programs here or there.
Unfortunately, disaster struck. To be more accurate – I was hit by a pickup truck while I was riding to campus on my bike on March 23, 2009. I suffered a Mild Traumatic Brain Injury. In June of that year, because I returned to work before I was fully recovered, I had a mild stroke. These injuries left me with a seizure disorder and chronic migraines. I had to resign from my job and go on disability.
I couldn’t do the kind of promotion for “The Lady Actress” I had promised Ginger I would. The things I did do turned out a little strange. Perhaps very strange. We didn’t sell many books.
One of the things I had promised to do was a blog – this blog. This March marks twelve years since the accident. Among the lingering cognitive difficulties that I am left with are that I still have trouble reading, comprehending what I have read, remembering what I have read, and organizing my thoughts. I can’t write like I did before the accident. I compose and edit blog entries well in advance on good days to cover for the days and sometimes weeks when I’m too sick to write.
I am writing this blog because Ginger [and my brother, Jack – I’m not forgetting about you!] told me I could and should write it. She told me – and I agreed – that your mind was something that you used or lost. She told me things to this effect many, many, many times until I finally sat down and overcame my fear and embarrassment of being so much less capable than I was before the head injury and began to start writing again. We even talked about a second book.
“It could take me years and years and years to write,” I protested.
She didn’t see this as a problem since I didn’t seem to be doing anything else. She was also a firm believer in having long-term goals.
“I’ve found an achievable long-term goal!” she called me up one day to announce.
“What?” I asked eagerly, because we had both previously agreed that women in their late forties — as the two of us were at that time– needed to have achievable long-term goals as a stabilizing force in their life. Unfortunately, neither of us had any hint of anything even remotely appropriate during the prior conversation.
“I want to die with all my teeth!”
We both solemnly agreed that as goals went, this one was challenging, potentially achievable, and quite long-term.
On Sunday morning, I got an email I thought was from Ginger. Instead it was an announcement that she had died. Her doctors discovered she had late stage lung cancer.
She and I were the kind of friends who called each other every few months. I get my second Covid shot at the end of this week. I was planning to call and tell her. We had a half-plan to go to England once travel was possible again and we both had money and were well enough to go. That’s a lot of hurdles to clear, but it’s good to have long-term goals…
And now… I don’t know what’s going to happen with Wapshott Press. It was always a bit of an impossible dream. I don’t know if there will continue to be a home for this blog. I don’t know how this will change my long-term goals. Will I continue to write this blog? Will I continue to very, very, very, very, very slowly work on a follow-up book to a first book that sold very few copies? I don’t know. I do know that I feel lucky to have had Ginger Mayerson as my friend. She made me very happy. She supported me at some of the very lowest moments of my life… even when it might have been a somewhat crazy idea to support me. I loved her with all my heart.
I hope she died with all her teeth.