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I’ve only known Jay Lake for a couple of years, but he’s the kind of friend I can trust completely, the kind of writer I admire, and the kind of person I try to be.

He’s also stuck in an ongoing fight with colon cancer, and his odds of being around to see his (equally amazing) daughter graduate from high school are not good. He blogs regularly and honestly about the experience, sharing his struggle with an admirable amount of disclosure.

Last fall, I went up to visit for a weekend, to help keep Jay company through a chemo session. We watched and criticized the science of lots of Enterprise, helped his daughter with her homework (and even with chemo-brain, he caught an error in her textbook!), and talked a lot about life, adversity, and mortality. I chatted quietly with his parents while he zonked out in the infusion center, and came away from the weekend wanting to adopt them.

Before that weekend, we’d been the kind of friends who hug at conventions a couple of times a year, and maybe find time to share a meal. Since that weekend, he’s become family.

There are two donation drives going right now, each to help Jay with a different part of his ongoing cancer story. One is to fund the documentary “Lakeside” by Waterloo Productions. (Link to Kickstarter) — At this link, there’s a short trailer video that shares a glimpse of Jay’s life, and why his story needs to be told.

The other drive is the Sequence A Science Fiction Writer fundraiser at This drive will fund an expensive, out-of-pocket genetic sequencing test, to try to determine how best to treat Jay’s tumors. It’s currently over 200% of goal, and all of those additional funds will go toward his existing medical debts, and to supporting a much-needed leave of absence from his day job (Jay has still worked full-time, on top of writing, being a parent, and going through chemo).

With each stretch goal, different science fiction luminaries are contributing “Acts of Whimsy,” to support Jay and to reward everyone for helping him out. Howard Tayler drew a comic of Jay kicking cancer’s ass. Jim C. Hines, Patrick Rothfuss, and others have read from their early and embarrassing works. Mary Robinette Kowal recorded some literary classics as phone sex. So here, without much further nervous stalling, is mine.

When I was sixteen, in high school and training to be a professional musician and songwriter, I needed to get my tonsils out. To sublimate my nervousness, I wrote a song about the experience. It was meant to be the sort of vapid pop bubblegum break-up song that would be a radio hit, and it would be my own private joke that no one knew the lyrics were corny on purpose because it was actually about tonsils.

I wrote it. I registered it for Copyright, as I did for several of my other songs at the time, because I was performing regularly. By the time I was 19, I had washed out of music school and moved on, mostly leaving songwriting behind for other creative outlets. [You may have to do your own search on Registration Number PAu001304600 in order to make that link work. The Library of Congress catalog likes to time out.]

So, I present to you “Where Are You Now” by Gabrielle (Blicher) Harbowy, (c) 1989

…which was originally about tonsils, but could quite easily be about colons, or livers, or whatever bits Jay gets to keep in a jar next.

This has never seen the light of day before. It is not my best musical work. And keep in mind, I’m an instrumental musician, not a singer.

Where Are You Now
performed and written by Gabrielle R. Blicher [Harbowy]

I’m thinking about the despair you caused me
Maybe it’s better this way
I can’t imagine ever living without you
But it’s the way I’ll have to stay

It hurt when you first left me
An empty ache day and night
For a week, maybe more, but now it’s over
You were surgically removed from my life

Where are you now?
You were a part of me
Now that you’re gone, I feel so empty
Where are you now?

Now you’re free the way you wanted to be
And I’ve gotten over you, too
The pain is gone — I can carry on
So why do I still think about you?

Where are you now?
You were a part of me
Now that you’re gone, I feel so lonely
Where are you now?

I know from my heart I can never replace you
I’m sure we won’t keep in touch
But I want you to know I still think about you
I know I owe you that much

Where are you now?
You were a part of me
Now that you’re gone, I feel so empty
Where are you now?

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  • Emily Siskin January 15, 2013, 3:25 pm




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