Tuesday, June 22, 2010

JOHN'S HEART SPEAKS OUT ~ John Wiswell Stages Serious, AT THE BIJOU


I’d like to thank Kate for giving me a little forum today. I’ll use it to tell you about Jemma and Shelly, the best couple I’ve ever met. They’ve outlasted every romance I’ve ever had, and every romance any friend of mine has ever had. They’re in a rough period and I’m going to ask you for a little help. First, how I know them.

They met at college. Perhaps unsurprising, it was a Liberal Arts college. Jemma was a Quaker from Virginia, while Shelly was a northerner with a strange affinity for Chinese literature. Shelly didn’t even know she was gay when they met. When I met them, they were already inseparable friends. Sometimes they would eat lunch and dinner at my table, called the Long Table because our group of friends grew too big and we had to push two normal tables together to fit everyone. It was one of the most important settings of my life because everything was open to a friendly humor. Comparative religion, blowjobs gone wrong, Bush winning a second term – everything conveyed in the humor of acceptance, which I have pursued in my writing ever since.

It’s in that spirit that I say, if they didn’t know they were in love, I did. And this is from a man who has no gaydar. A gay professor once told me about stalking his boyfriend and I came away from it oblivious that he was gay. I could tell about Jemma and Shelly not because of social stereotypes, but just how they were to each other. They were so bonded, so warm, and arrived together so frequently, that I just assumed they were a couple. Sorry if I beat you to the realization, ladies.

They have been two of my dearest friends for years. They are often the first to see my newest short stories. My half-crippled body made a very rare trek across country to be at their wedding (there’s a photo somewhere of me trying to lift the two of them for a hug in their wedding dresses). When my family went so broke we couldn’t afford groceries, they found a local grocery store online and ordered a delivery for me. The night before my gallbladder surgery they were so worried that I had to call them to calm them down. A week later, when I was finally able to sit up at the computer again, the first thing I saw on GMail was Shelly’s status: “Missing John.”

They live in Virginia. Both worked at the same employer, which I won’t name because I don’t want to get my friends in trouble. Jemma mostly worked in the library and records, while Shelly was on the tech side.

In the last year Jemma became very ill. Her energy and appetite were sapped, so that many days she could barely get out of bed. On her good days a simple surprise like a door slamming would shock her and put her right back in bed. In addition, Jemma’s arms became incredibly tender, such that she couldn’t type on a computer, let alone stock bookshelves. She underwent a battery of tests, but the best her doctors came up with was that this condition was similar to Chronic Fatigue. Seeking treatment for an unknown disease has been arduous. Seeking it while fighting a torrent of paperwork from her disgruntled employers on made it worse.

Shelly took extra jobs to make up the slack. She helped a novelist with computer problems and took care of people’s pets. When she came down with Lyme’s Disease, she had to soldier through it. When she fell on the campus steps and hurt her knee, she limped through it. She had to work.

A few weeks ago they fired Shelly. It had nothing to do with her performance; they were “eliminating her position.” That was odd since she was one of two people responsible for a great number of services in the department, and the other woman is quitting before the Fall term. Who will pick up their work, they didn’t say.

So right now these two are out of work. They’ll lose their health insurance when they need it the most and they’re wading through a historically bad job market. That’s where we come in.

I started a pledge drive to lend Jemma and Shelly a hand. You can find it at this link: http://pledgie.com/campaigns/11015 I encourage everyone to visit the page. Spread the banner wherever you like. If you can spare a few dollars, please consider contributing. Your donations will go to keeping the lights on and getting them to the doctor in a very rough period. They are not going to coast on your generosity; I know them, and as soon as they can do anything, they will. But we can help them in the mean time.

Thank you.
~ John 

John's note prefaced the zeal of John's feeling ~


You previously offered to do a post sometime for the Fleming-Meyer
Aid Drive, so long as I wrote it. That was very fair of you, and the
offer extremely kind. Following is the story for the aid drive,
including the link. - right here: http://pledgie.com/campaigns/11015

Whatever attention you can drum up would be wonderful. 
This couple really needs a hand.

  Thanks for all the fish, captain.


We've all gotta follow the way our feel zeals. John's LongTable not only shaped his writing's zeal as well, but carried a lot of care. That's the stuff of life you DO bring home from college. Can you help a friend you know this day? Can you help our friend John's friends? What you can do makes any piece of the world you're in . . . all that better. Good vibes make a difference 

~ Absolutely they do.  ~ Kate 

To aid John Wiswell's friends ~

Fleming-Mayer Aid Drive

Click here to
 lend your support to: Jemma and Shelly Fleming-Mayer Aid Drive and make
 a donation at www.pledgie.com !


Paul D Brazill said...

Splendid post, John.

Debbie Lamedman said...

We all could use friends like you John! Sending very positive thoughts to Shelly and Jemma.

Unknown said...

On my best day, I don't think I could find such loyalty from any of my friends, John... You're a great friend and I'm sure they know it.

Anonymous said...

John,this is very nice of you to pass on the kindness that you were shown, by our group. God Speed.

Kate Pilarcik ~ absolutely said...

Ant, I'd give you loyalty . . . as I do the lovely Jeanette, my mentor Mr Brazill and the playwright to make Broadway lights all the brighter, Debbie Lamedman ... really I would. Heck, I already do. If you were in the hospital or somethin' I'd sneak you in good hootch and have your walls papered with Hopper posters.

On the continued serious side, John ~ you already know you have my loyalty in wanting yet the more of those kinds of friends around you and that their stories take amazing turns for the better. Prayers spiral for Shelly and Jemma's goodness finding life-ease.

~ Absolutely*Kate

Harry said...

A very loving plea on behalf of your friend's John. If you aren't careful people are going to stop saying you have no heart!

I do hope things work out very well for you and your friends.