I Feel My Pain

Kage Baker was an intensely empathic person. She was so keenly aware of other people’s feelings that she tended to shut down and ignore them, just to survive contact. This got her a reputation with some folks as being cold, distant or uninterested – and then the same people would wonder how she wrote such interesting and detailed characters.

The truth was that she was quite aware of other people’s feelings, moods, attitudes: she just couldn’t cope with ’em. Those who had the opportunity to get close to her found out that she was a deeply emotional and empathic person; but you had to get through a lot psychic defenses to reach that part of Kage. And those battlements were manned and armed round the clock.

I, as primary War Lady, was always on the lookout for what Kage called “psychic vampires.” A lot of our other friends would also form entourages at conventions and the like, to keep her safe: Wayne and Neassa were especially good at it. Though there was one book signing where only a frantic signal from Kage herself prevented Wayne, Mongo and I from taking out a lurking fellow in a trench coat: who turned out to be a shy publisher …

Kage felt, though, that a lot of people’s thoughts and feelings snuck in through forgotten doors and carelessly opened windows in her head. She maintained that the greater portion of her mind was given over to processing other people’s memories, and so she was never sure whose life she was recalling. All her characters were running around in her mind, all the time, demanding her attention with varying degrees of politesse or noise – plus, she remembered almost everything she read, heard or saw. Kage professed to be often unsure if she was recalling a personal memory or a piece of research.

To tell you the truth, she often didn’t care very much, either. If it came down to it, she could accurately identify memories of 1940’2 Cairo with stories Daddy told her, and not actual memories of wandering the souk at dusk, shadowing a German soldier. But she didn’t always bother. She felt it didn’t matter. They were such interesting memories, after all.

She said she was a palimpset. An Aoleian harp hung in a tree to sound randomly. A spiritualist’s trumpet, floating absurdly in midair and playing music hall melodies. She rather liked that image, in fact.

What she was not, though, was a fuzzy sentimentalist. She avoided giving advice to strangers whenever possible; the intimacy horrified her. She would advise and comfort friends and family, but it was more likely to be along the lines of  “Wash your face and have a drink” than hand-holding and sympathetic tears. And if Kage thought you’d been an idiot in your own woes, she would tell you straight out.

Nonetheless. I never had a real sorrow that she did not try to comfort. Though she was paralytically  shy, she would spring physically to my defense when I needed it. And it was Kage who dealt with most of the problems caused by my depression, and made me get help. She couldn’t remember to take her own vitamins, but she knew the level of my meds to a nicety. Kage saved my life more than once.

I have been depressed lately – ha ha, what a surprise! Those who also wrestle with this particular demon, you doubtless know it has its special seasons. They vary from one to the next of us, but we all know when the Black Beast is most likely to come slinking along to piss on our doorsteps. This being one of my seasons,  I want to thank you all for being patient, for listening to me bitch and moan, for offering your kindness and affection and encouragement. It really, really helps. And though I am unsure why Athene seems to have recommended my use of spinning tire rims, I cannot deny they would be sporty …

Anyway, I am better today, and will be better yet. Thank you, Dear Readers.

About Kate

I am Kage Baker's sister. Kage was/is a well-known science fiction writer, who died on January 31, 2010. She told me to keep her work going - I'm doing that. This blog will document the process.
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6 Responses to I Feel My Pain

  1. Kara says:

    I suggest a little theobromos. All the research swears its healthy now!


  2. Kate says:

    Whoo-ee, Kara, that I take daily! Today so far it has been three Almond Rocas. and two chocolate cake doughnuts. Friday is no day for a healthy breakfast or lunch.


  3. MaggiRos says:

    Chocolate is my constant recommendation, the darker chocolate the better. Women need chocolate, it’s well known. If you must avoid sugar, Russell Stover makes a sugar-free that’s perfectly decent unless you’re an irredeemable chocolate snob. Some even come with caramel.

    And yes, I do know what you mean. Especially this time of year, especially as southern Faire draws to a close. Theobromos. Yes, that’s exactly the ticket.


  4. widdershins says:

    Reading your post reminded me of a friend who, when that nasty dawg bit her bum, would say, “Life’s a Bitch and then you die!” Then she’d laugh gently at herself and the dog would fade a little. I miss her.


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