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Missing Jen, Three Years On

After the passing of his mother, Christopher Hitchens was quoted saying a number of less than stellar comments about her. When asked about her death in 1973, Hitchens was quoted saying "No. I think she was having a bad menopause, and she was losing her looks, which were pretty impressive."

Those comments are fairly bad, on par with Donald Trump's comments about Megyn Kelly "bleeding out of wherever." The motivation was quite different, however. Hitchens' memorial of his mother Yvonne, who committed suicide in a pact with a priest, was one of the best parts of his memoir Hitch 22. He clearly was fond of her and saw her as a critical part of his life, much more so than his stoic father. There's not a lot of support for grief and the "stiff upper lip" expectation of men, which feminists deem part of "toxic masculinity," can lead toward the expression of grief and other unpleasant emotions in ugliness or bitterness.

I have felt this since the passing of my wife, Jennifer Lauren Reimer. Like Yvonne, Jen was brilliant and inspirational. Like her, she was suicidal. It may not have been a direct suicide like a gunshot but surely a slow motion suicide by way of ingesting toxic drug combinations over a long period of time, combined with a mixture of reproductive disorders and anorexia.

It got a bit worse recently, while staying with a roommate who was bitter toward women for completely different reasons. Until I brutally was demonstrated what was happening by a friend, I ended up adopting his worldview and language (when you are around someone enough, you will do so).

I shook myself out away from crass misogyny as a response to grief but the emotions still overflow. (Nothing compared to what her father incurred but nonetheless substantial.) I tell people it wasn't a big deal but clearly that's a nonsense lie, burying the emotions and letting them come out in ugliness as Hitchens' did. I read and re-read Jen's writing regularly. Jen's website, Practice of Madness, was fairly successful and I'm a big part of whatever legacy it had with her fans (Sharon Cretsinger tells me she had/has many). One of her last essays was about me and the anxiety attacks she was having about me leaving her (note, the main menu of Practice of Madness is pretty accessible but the articles are not - I'm not the one in control of maintaining it).

Jen had talks with a book agent (who knows what stage that was actually at) and was moderately obsessed with me when she passed away. She took a number of blitzed out photoshop pics of me which still adorn my Facebook and hers. Her nightmare vision was of all of those things coming to an end, leaving her alone and abandoned, not of her frail, fragile body finally succumbing to her neglect during her sleep, next to someone who loved her, which is what actually happened.

Jen was a brilliant writer. Her article "Girl X," which she is most proud of, is one of my favorites. She had the skill of verbal illustration that any great writer has. For the years following her death, I have periodically searched for someone like her but not like her, who would be able to collaborate on something the way we did "The American Hikikomori." Girls don't particularly like this. "I have nothing to do with her!" and "Why do you keep talking about her?" have been thrown at me a few times. I get hit on a bit more than most guys, but I generally only pursue girls with creative spirit - and that type generally doesn't like being pursued.

People don't understand. When death happens, usually police or military bag the body behind yellow tape or an addict perishes quietly in a hospice or an old person in a nursing home. Humans have really creative ways of hiding the sight of death from polite society. I not only saw it but saw it in slow motion. Most of the time misogynist comments have bitterly come from my lips in the years since Jen's death, people, until they know me a lot better of course, have responded with "Women don't owe you anything!" or the like. Once they know me, they just nod their head whenever I mention it, politely changing the subject. They may understand it but they don't want to hear it.

I hope someday that I find a woman who had her writing skill, who could work with me like she did. I hope she was also satisfied toward the end, knowing that no outward stimulation matched the acceptance of love of another.


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About Radical Second Things

Michael Orion is a blogger, writer, artist and photographer based in the Bay Area. Besides his maintenance and promotion of Radical Second Things, he contributes to the San Francisco newspaper SF Western Edition, where he writes about local non-profit organizations.

Mark Cappetta is a practicing Catholic and active LGBT activist. He has been instrumental in keeping Radical Second Things and updates the Facebook account almost daily.

Eva Gnostiquette is an artist, programmer, "future scientist," bi-trans girl and graphic designer. She voluntarily helped to create the first print issue Radical Second Things and designed our beautiful banners. Thanks so much, Eva!

Jordan Denato is a professional artist based out of Iowa. He took the initiative to illustrate both Jennifer Reimer's story and Michael Orion's Oscar Romero work. He has his own art studio, Tar and Feather Studios, and is a critical part of Radical Second Things.

Radical Second Things is a liberation theology themed blog that has clear cut goals - we see the structural decline of the United States and much of the west and hope to present alternatives that will offer "a preferential option for the poor" as more become vulnerable.

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