Today was the last Roswell Day, but that's fine.

Roswell has left the building.

But don't be sad. This is still a very happy story.

This morning Roswell had a very swift downturn and she was purring and with us when she died, thirteen and a half years after she showed up on the back porch, filthy and with her eyes swollen shut. Over the years she was a thing that absorbed, amplified, and radiated unconditional love, and I'll miss her. I'm only sad for selfish reasons and I'm only sad a little bit. Mostly I'm grateful -- not so much for the time we had together -- but rather the time we had together knowing that the clock was running out. I'm so grateful that we had the time to live those days as though each one was the last. And I'm glad for how much she was able to impact other people's lives for the better in the time she had.

All in all there were 379 Roswell Days, each one the best day of her life filled with love and attention and, occasionally, food. I don't feel the need to memorialize her because I did that a year ago when I thought she was going to die.

In the past year, she's had people come from Scotland, from California, from Florida, from Canada, from Oregon, from Kentucky, and from just down the street to say hello and goodbye and make her feel special. She survived life on the streets, meningitis, diabetes, asthma, and cancer. She was a very lucky cat who stretched all of those nine lives as far as possible.

One of the first photos of Roswell after she came in, July of 2006.
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How to be a better Cat Dat

I spent a lot of time in her last year wondering how I could do better by her and these are what I'm left with.

1) (most important) Never be mad at anything just because it loves you. When claws go into your leg, when someone wakes you up by sitting on your head, when someone wants to be picked up, when someone follows you around mewping or claws your nose at 5 am, don't get impatient, don't shout, don't push. Remember that's all they have to say they want to be with you.

2) Never leave a meow or a tap unanswered. If you can't reach out and touch them right away because you're carrying dishes, answer with your words and follow up with a touch when you can.

3) All requests for petting must be answered with petting. This is meows, leg rubbing, lap sitting.

4) The minimum amount of time for petting is 10 seconds. Count to ten. Don't scritch & go. There will be some day you'd give a lot for ten more seconds. Enjoy it now.

5) Always make space and recognize when she wants to be with you. When you're on the sofa, or in the comfy chair, or at the computer; make space. I put a chair next to my computer chair for Roswell to sit in, it's pushed right up next to mine so we touch. If she climbs up on the keyboard, I put her on the chair. She's happy enough.

6) Always be thinking "Can I make her happier? Can I make her life better?" She's a cat. She can't do stuff on her own, like open cans or turn on the Youtube Birds Eating Seeds channel. Sometimes you need to intervene.

7) Never use your size or fear to get what you want. Don't chase her away from something -- a table, a dish, a door, -- rather give her a reason to come to you. You should always be the thing of love, never the thing of fear.

8) When it's time to go, it's time to go. Don't linger on the last decision because you can't imagine life without them. Imagine instead their life without pain.

Remembering Roswell

On the anniversary of her cancer diagnosis we threw her a party which we called Day of Gluttony, Night of 1000 Cans where we invited some of her friends to come over, bring their favorite foods, and celebrate by eating. Roswell got to eat as many cans as she wanted and we livestreamed the whole thing. Six hundred people tuned in to watch.

I think this is a great way to remember her. You can watch it here. It's the best party I've ever been to.

If you want to do something to memorialize her and you can, adopt or foster a cat. If you can't do that, you can click here to donate to City Kitties the group that helped her when she was a kitten. If you can't do that -- make every day a Happy Roswell Day for a person or animal in your life. You can also get some Roswell art from M.C. Matz and think of her every morning while you drink coffee.

Have a Roswell Life everyone.

Thanks for being a part of our lives. If you have a favorite Roswell story or an idea about how people can do good in the world, let us know in the comments.

Hayley Rosenblum videotaped Roswell eating some nori earlier this year.

Typical day in the life of Roswell. You may clickenzee to EmCuten

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Roswell seems to be doing ok, almost a year out from her diagnosis. So yaay. trillianstars just finished starring in Tartouff at Hedgerow and has some time off. This Saturday, November 9th, we're party of the marathon reading of Moby Dick at the Independence Seaport Museum. Trillian and I are reading chapter 17, The Ramadan, we start at 5:00 I think. Maybe we'll see you there.
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Just stuff

Things have been tooling along pretty well. Roswell is still with us -- fat and happy and doesn't seem to know she has cancer. So we're taking every day as it comes and celebrating each moment we get together.

Couple of book projects in the works mostly all of which are at places in development where they're out of my hands right now, so I don't really know what to do with myself.

I did go see Babymetal and they were awesome.

Apart from that, not much to report.

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September 11th will come every year forever.

My posts about 9/11 are now ninteen years old. It's hard to think. And that I've had this blog for that long. There are three posts, one from the Pentagon the week of the attacks, one from the World Trade Center site, and one from Shanksville PA, slightly later. I think the thing I wonder most now, after all this, is if you could ask those hijackers now, "do you think you made things better?" What would they say?

You can read them here.

Happy Roswell Day

Just a quick update, Roswell's still around and happy. Her "six week" prognosis seems to have been a little off. We're still spending every day though as if it was her last. Getting in lots of love and lots of time in front of the fireplace snuggling.

That is all.

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First off -- Roswell's still kicking. She seems to have no idea that she has cancer. So that's good. Lots of people have been coming to visit her.

In other news ...

Top Sekrit No Longer! Tomorrow, Mütter Museum, be part of the studio audience for the live taping of our podcast MOVIE vs EXPERT, a podcast where we watch movies with experts and separate fact from fiction. Tomorrow co-host Mikey Mongol & I are subjecting Mütter Museum curator Anna Dhody to the 1997 museum monster film THE RELIC. $20 includes AFTER HOURS ADMISSION TO THE MUSEUM. See the soap lady without all the crowd. Light snacks / cash bar!

Get tickets here

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Happy New Roswell Year!

So, 2018 passed inevitably into 2019 and, for the 19th year in a row, I took a two-second long self portrait that begins in one year and ends in the next. You can find most (or all of them) by just looking for the January 1 entry on this blog for various years.

On the one hand, it's impressive how sedentary we've become in some ways -- it's not that we don't go out to party anywhere for new years as much as we have trouble even staying up until midnight anymore.

However, in our defense, we've done a lot this year. I wrote 44,000 words about the history of the invention of the payphone for an upcoming book, trillian_stars wrote a play about Mary Shelley (which she's performing right now on tour). Trillian also played Medea, one of her dream roles, and went to Norway to research Ibsen, Armed America was exhibited in a museum in Germany, I wrote my column for Videomaker magazine -- I gave a lecture at Tarletan State University and I think they'll have me back this year for a longer engagement.

But we pretty much don't leave the house for parties anymore.

Roswell seems pretty good -- she doesn't know she has cancer. She's had a lot of visitors -- people came from as far away as Seattle and Georgia and even Scotland to visit and bring her treats.

We've started a writers retreat where you can sit in our house and work on your book while we're away and have Roswell sit on your lap and "help". It's been nice seeing novelists and playwrights and the like getting to spend some time with Roswell trying to lay on their notebooks.

All in all, 2018 was a pretty good year for us. I hope yours was too, and I hope 2019 is even better.

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So ... I was in the DMV the other day, getting my driver's license renewed. It was packed, and incredibly inefficient. They only took money orders. No checks, no credit cards, no paypal, none of the trappings of the late 20th century had permeated the air of that place. I'd been there about an hour waiting for my number to show up on a screen when an old guy in a wheelchair came in, being pushed by his daughter. They sat next to me. He was wearing a USMC hat and had an eagle globe and anchor tattooed on his forearm and -- since I'm interested in military tattoos, I asked him about it and he started talking about his time in the military. He'd spent most of his time in Okinawa but spent six months in Vietnam towards the end of the 1960's. He was far from the front and felt relatively safe, if not bored. He pulled a lot of guard duty and spent a lot of time standing around. At some point things were getting stolen from the base at an alarming rate -- people were somehow climbing over or the fences and burglarizing storage facilities, taking food, car parts, blankets, anything. They put up signs that said something to the effect of "keep out trespassers will be shot" and eventually they put up guard towers and they put guards in the towers armed with shotguns and he was one of these guards. They told him "if you see anybody, tell them to identify themselves or you'll shoot and if they don't identify themselves, shoot." One night this gentleman was up in the guard tower and he saw a shadow moving between two quonset huts and he said "Identify yourself or I'll shoot" and the shadow didn't identify itself, but started running and he thought "they told me to shoot," so he fired his shotgun and heard a cry -- immediately he wondered if they meant shoot if someone was running away or only shoot if they didn't run away -- all of this while he quickly climbed down the tower and ran over -- there was blood on the ground but no body. Other Marines arrived quickly and searched the area but didn't find anything.

"There's never been a day since then," he said, "sometimes when I'm at home and there's a sudden lull in conversation or maybe I'll be about to get on a bus or I'll look down at the sidewalk ... but there's never a day when I don't think about that person I shot, who he was, and what happened to him."

Trillian's New Play -- Back to Chekhov

Being married to an actress I've become acutely aware of how the theater world is so heavily skewed towards men. A man can spend his entire career just performing Shakespeare and have great parts -- from Hamlet to Lear with Macbeth in between your career can be made without even changing authors. The most you can hope for as a woman in Shakespeare is to be an "and" -- "and Juliet", "and Cleopatra" ... so as trillian_stars' career has grown so much since I've met her I've seen the frustration of "what do I do next?" -- How many times can you play Lady MacBeth? (I think it's three right now). There are roles in classic theater that are every bit as good as Hamlet or Willy Loman, it's just that there are so few of them and they're almost never performed. I've seen Trillian list the roles that she wants to play and, over the years, I've watched her tick them off, Nora Helmer, Hedda Gabler, Medea .... and those that are left become precious few.

I'm so happy that she's found a great group of actors at Hedgerow Theater who have taken it upon themselves to tackle a lot of these plays.

I might not have blogged about it before -- but it's the four main actors from Hedda Gabler who have formed a group they call "The Core Four" and they've agreed to do four plays a year for three years, each play features all of the actors, and everybody gets a chance to do some of the great roles they've always wanted to tackle. So sometimes Trillian's a big of background like in His Girl Friday where she played a dozen people (although I must say, some of them were amazing) and Jessica DalCanton (who played Thea in Hedda Gabler had a chance to shine, and then Trillian's Medea and ... well, anyway, they're doing Checkhov's Three Sisters next. They'd done Uncle Vanya last year and I was surprised how funny it was as well as pathetic (in the sense that it inspired pathos) -- it was so complex and filled with great, sweeping emotional parts. I"m excited about their Three Sisters.

Three Sisters. Clickenzee to Embiggen Them.

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You're Invited To Roswell's Last Party


Roswell has cancer and we don't know how much time she has left.

It may be weeks, or it may be months but we do know that every day from now now until the end is going to be the happiest day of her life, and you're invited to share it with her. This is Roswell's last party. And it's the best party.

Roswell's Last Party doesn't have a specific date, it lasts from right now until her last moment on Earth. She'd love it if you came by to visit, rub her belly, feed her nori, let her sit in your lap, pet her head or just hang out.

Don't be sad. While this is the end, it's the best life a cat could have.

Let me tell you a happy story.

Let me tell you a happy story about a kitten who was never supposed to have anything but who ended up having it all.

Roswell came to us in 2006 when Phil Forrest texted to say that there was a stray kitten on the back porch. She was skittish and he wasn't able to catch her.

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Over the next couple of days, she got a terrible eye infection and was a blind kitten running around in the back yard. It was easy to catch her then. Phil and Stacey and I caught her. She was feral, she hated people. So twice a day, we would chase her into a corner and throw a towel over her and then pet her for 30 minutes.

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She wasn't very happy about it, but we gave her as much love as we could.

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Eventually, she realized that she liked getting her belly rubbed and that people were ok. And we started to try and find a permanent home for her.

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She had a cute sister named n00ton who she loved as much as she loved belly rubs.

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She was a filth thing.

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Then one day while we were playing, Roswell had a seizure. It was terrible. She thrashed around like a fish on a spear. She howled and screamed and I ran out into the street with her and jumped in a taxi and they raced us to the veterinary hospital. When I got in the door someone looked at her and yelled "triage for a cat!" They took her away and I wasn't sure if I'd ever see her again. She looked terrible.

After a few hours a doctor came out to see me and he said "This cat has meningitis, an infection of the brain. It's very bad. It may die soon."

And I asked "what can you do?"

And the doctor said "we can try treating her with antibiotics, but there's no assurance that will work. And it will be expensive."

And I said "well, what should I do?"

And the doctor said "I can't give you advice, only information."

And I pressed, "What would you do if it was your cat?" Up until this point I'd never thought that Roswell was my cat, only that I was holding on to her until we could find her a person.

"Well," the doctor said, "if it were my cat, I'd try the antibiotics, but I get a discount, so I can't tell you what to do."

So I said, "let's try the antibiotics."

And the next day they called me and they said "Your cat may die today."

And the next day they called me and they said "Your cat may die today."

And the next day they called me and they said "Your cat may die today"

And the next day they called me and they said "Your cat may die today"

And the next day they called me and they said "Your cat is 100% better, you can come and get her."

And so I posted about it to the Internet and went to spring her from Intensive Care.

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How joyful! I went in to pick her up that afternoon. I knew it was going to be expensive, which was frightful, five days in the ICU? When I got there, I asked "how much is it?" and they said "her bill has been paid, people have been calling in all day and contributing money for her." You can just take her home.

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We were very happy and we promised then to pay back what people had given her to other people who needed emergency help with vet bills, and we've been doing that ever since and we're going to keep doing it.

When we got home, there were dozens of cards that people from the Internet had sent Roswell.

I read every one of them to her, and she played with each and every card.

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After that day, Roswell followed me around like a puppy. She'd just been a cat before then, but now she wasn't just a cat. She was a cat with a person and she'd chosen me. So I stopped looking for a home for her.

We decided to learn to cook together. And she sampled everything and made suggestions.

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She was a fearsome hunter. Like Godzilla.

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She decided that she needed to be carried around, like a baby, for at least 20 minutes every day. This was non negotiable. And it continues to this day. This is one of the things you can take part in at Roswell's Last Party.

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She was a powerful literary critic.

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Both a lover and a fighter.

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We also kept working on that cookbook.

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Somewhere along the line she got diabetes and became the poster girl for how cats do well with that disease. We got letters from vets saying they showed patients Roswell getting her shot to make them realize how manageable it was.

She loves to eat seaweed. It's her favorite food. You can bring her some if you come over.

She did a series with famous novelists where people could write fanfic about her in the world of a new book and get an autographed copy of the book.

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Seriously, that was a thing.

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People have done some wonderful fan art of Roswell. I love this one of her as Teddy Rosevelt.

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Throughout it all she's just been filled with love and forgiveness. She's been my best buddy and I'm happy to have spent the last twelve years with her. And however much time we have left.

So come visit. Say hello. Say I love you.

We don't need hugs, we don't need sad faces. This is a happy story about a kitten who should have died under a bush a dozen years ago never knowing love but who has had more than a decade of the greatest life any cat could have. We just want you to share in our joy.

She'd love if if you'd come by and make a fuss about her. We know she has a fan club from out of town, if you're thinking of coming to visit from far away, we can probably put you up. Let us know.

And if your want, donate to City Kitties, they're the ones who helped save her in the first place.

If you have favorite Roswell photos or memories, please post them in the comments.

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